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 Thursday 06 August 2009
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GLOBAL: US lifts travel ban on HIV-positive people

Photo: Afif Sarhan/IRIN
Passport please
JOHANNESBURG, 21 July 2008 (PlusNews) - A move by the United States Senate to repeal legislation prohibiting HIV-positive visitors and immigrants has been hailed as an important step in the fight against stigma and discrimination.

On 16 July, the Senate passed the re-authorisation of the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which also amends the Immigration Act to lift the ban on travel and immigration to the country by HIV positive non-citizens.

The US Senate legislation will authorize $48 billion over five years for AIDS, TB and malaria.

UN Special Envoy for AIDS Elizabeth Mataka welcomed the move, which she noted had been a long time coming. "I think countries should look at HIV and AIDS as an epidemic that knows no borders of any description," Mataka told IRIN/PlusNews.

"Countries should recognise that the world has become a global village, and restricting HIV positive people [from travelling] is counter-productive." 

UNAIDS described the vote as a "major step in keeping its commitment to the global AIDS response".

The action by the US Senate is a vote of confidence that past and current investments in bilateral and multi-lateral programmes are working.

In a statement, the International AIDS Society (IAS), custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference, applauded the Senate's vote, but called on other countries "with discriminatory policies and laws restricting the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV to follow suit".

Some 67 countries around the world have a variety of HIV-specific laws that restrict the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV, according to a global database on HIV travel restrictions compiled by the IAS and its partners.

Mataka warned that all other countries with discriminatory immigration policies were denying HIV positive people their basic human rights. "You need to deal with AIDS with a human rights perspective, and by keeping these laws we are violating people's right to movement," she said.

The IAS, an association of HIV professionals with more than 11,000 global members, has opposed the "US HIV-specific entry bar" since 1990, and does not hold its conferences in countries that restrict the entry of people living with HIV/AIDS.

"We look forward to seeing this provision put into law as we move forward in the global movement to reduce the burden of HIV," said IAS President Pedro Cahn.

[IRIN/PlusNews will be filing daily reports from the next IAS International AIDS Conference, which is being held in August in Mexico City, Mexico]


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Aid Policy, (PLUSNEWS) PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews, (PLUSNEWS) Stigma/Human Rights/Law - PlusNews


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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