Information for HIV-Positive Participants

While the United States has repealed its statutory exclusion of persons
with HIV/AIDS, an administrative regulation still classifies HIV as a
communicable disease that would exclude even non-immigrant visitors (see
http://www.washingtonblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=20066). 

So U.S. embassies still ask for information about HIV status when you
apply for a visa.  All visa applicants have to submit form DS-156
(https://evisaforms.state.gov/ds156.asp), which still contains this
question (see section 38, last question).  A waiver is possible, but it
requires that your entry to the U.S. be in the national interest of the
U.S. and the embassy will have to ask for authorization from the federal
government.  This on average takes 18 days. So a waiver application is time-consuming and offers small
prospect of success. In addition, in 2008 consular officers were authorized to grant a waiver on a categorical basis on their own. Such waivers are granted by consular officers immediately but are subjec to certain conditions and limitations. (See http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/laws/gc_1222707499738.shtm.)

You will be asked to provide information on HIV status even if your
country is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
(http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html) and you
don't need a visa.  All citizens of those countries don't need a visa
but nevertheless have to secure an approved authorization through the
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
(https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html?_flowExecutionKey=_c5F67A6B1-3597-0F8E-9AEF-5C8E588D224A_k8AEC65EE-EBD1-A77C-A349-570E2CC95981) before
boarding transport into the U.S.  And ESTA again asks if one has HIV
infection
(https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/ESTA_Screen-Level_Online_Help_1.htm; see section "What information do I need to complete the
application?") with the consequence of a  "yes" answer being denial of
electronic travel authorization and the necessity of applying for a visa
(https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/ESTA_Screen-Level_Online_Help_1.htm; see section "What should I do if I am not approved for a travel
authorization?").

If you make a false statement you run the risk of being caught (for
instance if U.S. personnel find medication in your baggage), arrested,
prosecuted and returned back to your country (at your own expense).

President-elect Obama promised to delete the ban on entry by HIV
positive persons.  We cannot, however, predict when the Department of Health and Human Services will remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/diseases.htm#communicable; http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/ifr_faq.htm#4) or how
long it will take until a repeal will take full effect with the deletion
of the questions in form ds-156 and in the ESTA-system.  As the State
Department's web site has apparently not been updated and still refers
to the statutory provision repealed last summer
(http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html; section Art. 212 (a)(a)1.A.i.), even if the remaining
administrative regulation mentioned above were repealed soon after
inauguration of President Obama, it is uncertain whether legal changes
would be in place early enough to assure that HIV positive persons could
participate in the conference without concern.