The emergence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) during the early 1980’s fostered a national hysteria in which fears of contracting the disease were directed against categories of people who were believed to be its main carriers, most notably homosexual men and intravenous drug users. In an effort to prevent the diseases’ spread, federal laws were modified to restrict travel and immigration into the United States.
The first official mention of what would become known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, by the
Public fear of the spread of AIDS and HIV was growing at the same time the public was becoming more concerned about the immigration of undesirables. Some of this fear had a racist element. Scenes of black
During the summer of 1987, President
The codified American ban on the entry of HIV carriers into the United States had the ironic effect of interfering with the exchange of academic and scientific information designed to stem the disease’s spread. A typical example of this obstruction was the harassment of Dutch AIDS-prevention specialist
International conferences on AIDS held in the United States during the early and mid-1990’s secured waivers for foreign participants infected with HIV/AIDS to enter the country. However, the granting of these waivers was slow, arbitrary, and begrudging. Consequently, the growing militancy of AIDS advocacy groups such as ACT UP during the administration of
The introduction of retroviral cocktail drugs after 1996 transformed HIV/AIDS from a deadly to a chronic disease, at least among victims who could afford the taxing regimen of medications that were becoming available. Meanwhile, the worldwide and increasingly heterosexual scope of HIV/AIDS was becoming publicly evident, and the disease’s ravages were a growing concern for American national interests and security, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
The trend toward an
In the meantime, routine obstruction and harassment of AIDS victims by federal government agencies continued. For example,
Andriote, John-Manuel. Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Excellent analysis of the devastating impact of the disease in the United States during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Chalmers, James. Legal Responses to HIV and AIDS. London: Hart, 2008. Comprehensive look at interconnections between immigration and HIV/AIDS issues. Gordenker, Leon, Roger Coate, Christer Jonsson, and Peter Soderholm. International Cooperation in Response to AIDS. London: Pinter, 1995. Excellent account of the conference controversies of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Lalou, Richard, and Victor Piché. “Migrants and AIDS: Risk Management Versus Social Control–An Example from the Senegal River Valley.” Population, English Edition 59, no. 2 (March-April, 2004): 195-228. Study of the interrelationships among migration, immigration, and HIV/AIDS fears in sub-Saharan Africa. Nelson, Leonard J. “International Travel Restrictions and the AIDS Epidemic.” American Journal of International Law 81, no. 1 (January, 1987): 230-236. Early survey of global exclusions put in place before the Helms amendment.
Gay and lesbian immigrants
History of immigration after 1891