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U.S. to Issue Visas to Gay Games Participants With AIDS Virus

March 23, 1994| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Clinton Administration will allow foreigners with the virus that causes AIDS to attend the Gay Games in New York in June.

Atty. Gen. Janet Reno approved a waiver Tuesday to the rule barring people with the AIDS virus from entering the United States.

Visas granted under the waiver will allow stays of up to 10 days. The Gay Games take eight days. Two additional days were allotted for travel.

Reno acted after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised her there was no public health reason to prohibit the brief stay, and the Department of Health and Human Services determined that visits up to 90 days would not harm public health.

"This is good news for people with AIDS and for people who oppose discrimination, and we are very, very happy," said Gregory King, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a gay lobbying group.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 athletes and spectators from more than 40 countries are expected to attend the Gay Games, from June 18-25, according to a State Department cable obtained by the Associated Press last month. The games overlap related events that week, including the 16th annual International Lesbian and Gay Assn. world conference and Stonewall 25, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of a gay customer-police confrontation at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, New York.

"Short-term visits present minimal risk," said Immigration Commissioner Doris Meissner, who recommended the waiver on the basis of the HHS determination. Waivers have been used in the past to permit HIV-infected foreigners to attend academic and scientific conferences, obtain medical treatment, visit family members and complete temporary business.

Those seeking visas would not be required to state their HIV status but must show proof, such as tickets, of their intent to attend or participate in the Gay Games IV and Cultural Festival, said Justice spokeswoman Ana Cobian.

U.S. policy denies visas to anyone with a communicable disease of public health significance, including HIV, which causes AIDS. That restriction led planners to move the annual International Conference on AIDS from Boston to the Netherlands in 1992.

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