Gay group Immigration Equality will
welcome two men from the Netherlands on Monday as the U.S. officially
ends its travel restrictions on HIV-positive people.
Clemens Ruland and Hugo Bausch will
arrive in New York City just hours after the United States ends its
22-year-old policy that banned HIV-positive people from entering the
country. The couple will visit old friends, shop and enjoy the city
during a one week stay.
Steve Ralls, communications director
Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of GLBT immigrants,
told On Top Magazine that the men are believed to be the first
to visit under the new policy.
Ruland, 45, works with young people in
the criminal system. He was infected in New York by an ex-lover and
diagnosed HIV-positive in 1997. Anti Retroviral Therapy has kept his
virus load undetectable. He returned to visit the U.S. once in 2005,
but said he feared being detained. Bausch, 50, an illustrator, is
The Dutch AIDS service organization
SOAAIDS is behind
the visit. Ruland entered a poem into the group's essay contest to
win the couple's passage to New York City.
The Bush administration approved the
end of the travel ban in June 2008, but failed to implement the
regulatory changes to end the restrictions. President Obama called
the travel ban a “decision rooted in fear rather than fact” in
announcing the policy's January 4, 2010 end.
Ruland's winning poem:
No more lies
No more pretending
No more hiding
In the crevices of exclusion
to the land
where once lay my destiny
in one viral load
Free I am
Free to travel
To hug, share, love
And once more be united
Alive and proud
I turn to you, America
America, here I come
Come as I am
CORRECTION: The Dutch couple are
expected to arrive at JFK Thursday. They pair applied for entry on
Monday, the first day of the new policy, and are still believed to be
the first to enter the U.S., a SOAAIDS spokesman said.