Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:46 UK

US set to overturn HIV travel ban

Aids ribbon
Lawmakers also approved $50bn of funding to fight Aids

The US Senate has voted to overturn a rule banning HIV-positive visitors from entering the US.

The US is one of only a dozen countries - including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Russia - that ban travel and immigration for HIV-positive people.

America's travel ban has been in force since 1987.

The provision lifting the ban was part of a bill granting some $50bn in funding for the fight against HIV/Aids throughout the world.

'Unwelcome mat'

The bipartisan effort to lift the ban has been spearheaded by Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator Gordon Smith.

"Our government still treats individuals with HIV/Aids as modern-day lepers, categorically banning these individuals from entering into the US," said Senator Smith.

"To fully embrace our global leadership on HIV/Aids, we must remove our unwelcome mat and overturn this ridiculous ban."

The bill, including the provision lifting the ban, will now go to a joint committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate, where any differences will be ironed out, before going to President George W Bush for approval.

President Bush has already indicated that he supports the bill.

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