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Obama Ends Ban on People With HIV/AIDS Entering U.S.

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President Barack Obama on Friday ended a 22-year-old policy barring people with HIV/AIDS from entering the United States.

Calling the original decision one "rooted in fear rather than fact," Obama said the ban's removal is "a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, it's a step that will save lives," the Associated Press reported.

The United States was the first country to initiate such a measure, and today only 12 nations have such laws in place. "If we want to be a global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," the president said.

The announcement came as Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, providing assistance to more than 500,000 Americans, the AP said. Ryan White, of Kokomo, Ind., contracted HIV in 1984 via a blood transfusion at age 13 and died in 1990. His mother Jeanne attended the White House signing ceremony.

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