14. Minutes of a Visa/Immigration Meeting1

Re: HHS Proposal to Require HTLV–III Testing for Visas and to Make AIDS an “. . . excludable, dangerous disease” under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

ATTENDEES

  • Phyllis Bucsko CA/PC
  • John Adams CA/OCS
  • Marguerite Coffey CA/PC
  • Karen Martin CA/RP
  • Rudy Henderson L/CA
  • Jack Phelan HHS
  • Steve Grossman HHS/DASH
  • Paul Goff M/MED
  • Burnie Pixley M/MED
  • Hal Weeks OES/ENR
  • Allan Otto CA/VO
  • Jim Curran CDC
  • James DeLaney HHS/Ex.Sec.
  • Lee Mosedale HHS/

State Department officers met with HHS officials to discuss the HHS request for comment on the proposed rule change to make AIDS a “. . . dangerous, contagious disease”2 excludable from the U.S. by making the disease grounds for visa denial.

Discussion centered on the difficulty of diagnosing AIDS, the difficulty of testing for HTLV–III/LAV antibodies in many areas of the world and to whom this requirement would apply.

HHS is intent on proceeding with a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to be published in the Federal Register. They are unswayed by the difficulties and expense imposed by making ELISA tests (and confirmatory Western Blot tests, if necessary) a part of the medical exam for visas. They are also insensitive to the near certain retaliatory (reciprocal, if you wish) actions other governments will take, and the expense and difficulties that will impose on U.S. citizens.

If the rule is adopted, all visa medical exams will have to include the ELISA test, and the Western Blot test for confirmation if the ELISA is positive. A confirmed positive test would be grounds for visa denial.

Medical exams are required of all individuals applying for an immigrant visa. They are required of applicants for non-immigrant visas at the discretion of the consular officer processing the application. Phyllis Bucsko pointed out that CA would anticipate requiring no more medical exams for non-immigrant visas than they do now—which is some fraction of 1% of the applicants. HHS officials concurred with this, [Page 41]which appears to be a retreat from their earlier desire to apply this requirement more broadly, especially to students.

  1. Source: Department of State, AIDS, 1984–1987, Lot 89D137, AIDS Department Policy Guidelines/Press. No classification marking. Drafted by Weeks on February 5.
  2. See 51 Federal Register 15354, April 23, 1986.