US immigration officials on Monday announced moves to ease and speed up visa-processing for HIV-positive visitors to the United States, months after a 21-year entry ban on people with the virus was lifted.
Under the new rules, US consular offices overseas will have the authority to grant temporary, non-immigrant visas to HIV-positive applicants who meet "all of the other normal criteria for the granting of a US visa," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
Previously, people with HIV were banned from entering the United States unless they obtained a special waiver.
"We're also accelerating the process by providing an additional avenue for temporary admission while maintaining a high level of security at our borders," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in the statement.
Visas issued under the new rules will "be subject to certain criteria designed to ensure an HIV-positive person's activities while in the United States do not present a risk to the public health," the statement said, without going into detail.
President George W. Bush signed legislation in July which removed HIV from a list of diseases "of public health significance" that effectively barred any person infected with the virus that causes AIDS from entering the United States.
The ban on HIV-positive foreigners entering the United States had been in place since 1987.