Practice listening to the VOA 120 medical English newsletter

In nineteen eighty-seven, HIV / AIDS joined a list of diseases that could keep a person out of the United States. The government later tried to cancel its decision. But Congress made the travel ban a part of immigration law. People with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, could seek an exception, but that meant extra work. Last year, Congress and President George W. Bush began the process of ending the travel ban.

Now President Obama is finishing that process. A final rule published November second will end the travel ban effective January fourth. HIV will no longer be a condition that can exclude people. And HIV testing will no longer be required for those who need a medical examination for immigration purposes. AIDS has killed more than twenty-five million people since the early nineteen eighties.

In September, there was news that a vaccine showed some ability to prevent HIV infection in humans for the first time. The full results of the vaccine study were presented in late October at an international conference in Paris. They were also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers confirmed that the study in Thailand produced only “modest” results. The United States Army sponsored the vaccine trial. The study combined two vaccines, using versions of HIV common in Thailand. Neither vaccine alone had shown success in earlier studies.

Thai researchers tested the combination in more than sixteen thousand volunteers. Half of the volunteers got the vaccine. The others got a placebo, an inactive substance. All were given condoms and counseling on AIDS prevention for three years. The study found thirty-one percent fewer cases of infection in the vaccine group than in the placebo group. But critics said the findings could possibly have resulted from chance. The announcement in September was based on all sixteen thousand volunteers. Almost one-third of them, however, did not follow all the required steps in the study. Results just from those who did were similar to the larger group, but the influence of chance was more of a possibility. Still, the researchers said the study produced enough valuable information to offer new hope for AIDS research. And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report. This report and others are available online at

Words in This Story

congress – n. a large formal meeting of representatives from countries or societies at which ideas are discussed and information is exchanged

ban – v. to forbid (= refuse to allow) something, especially officially

immigration – n. the act of someone coming to live in a different country

exclude – v. to prevent someone or something from entering a place or taking part in an activity

conference – n. an event, sometimes lasting a few days, at which there is a group of talks on a particular subject,

or a meeting in which especially business matters are discussed formally

sponsor – v. to support a person, organization, or activity by giving money, encouragement, or other help

announcement – n. something that someone says officially, giving information about something

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