UN calls for removal of HIV-related travel restrictions

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GENEVA, 02 JULY 2019 (UNAIDS/THE NATIONAL) — The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are urging countries to keep the promises made in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS to remove all forms of HIV-related travel restrictions.

Travel restrictions based on real or perceived HIV status are discriminatory, prevent people from accessing HIV services and propagate stigma and discrimination.

Since 2015, four countries have taken steps to lift their HIV-related travel restrictions—Belarus, Lithuania, the South Korea and Uzbekistan.

PNG is one of the remaining 48 countries that have such restrictions. PNG requires HIV testing for work and study permits; as well as residency permits (for stays longer than 90 days).

UNAIDS executive director, Gunilla Carlsson, in Geneva, Switzerland said: “Travel restrictions on the basis of HIV status violate human rights and are not effective in achieving the public health goal of preventing HIV transmission.

“UNAIDS calls on all countries that still have HIV-related travel restrictions to remove them.”

Director of UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Group Mandeep Dhaliwal said: “HIV-related travel restrictions fuel exclusion and intolerance by fostering the dangerous and false idea that people on the move spread disease.

“The 2018 Supplement of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law was unequivocal in its findings that these policies were counterproductive to effective AIDS responses.”

Out of the 48 countries and territories that maintain restrictions, at least 30 still impose bans on entry or stay or residence based on HIV status and 19 deport non-nationals on the grounds of their HIV status.
Other countries and territories may require an HIV test or diagnosis as a requirement for a study, work or entry visa.

The majority of countries that retain travel restrictions are in the Middle East and North Africa, but many countries in Asia, the Pacific, eastern Europe and central Asia also impose restrictions.

The Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, this week at its 41st session, had consistently drawn the attention of the international community to, and raised awareness on, the importance of promoting human rights in the response to HIV, most recently in its 05 July 2018 resolution on human rights in the context of HIV.

The new data compiled by UNAIDS included, for the first time, an analysis of the kinds of travel restrictions imposed by countries and territories and include cases in which people were forced to take a test to renew a residency permit.

The data were validated with member states through their permanent missions to the United Nations.

Pacific countries among the 48 countries and territories that still had some form of HIV-related travel restriction are: Australia, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Source: PACNEWS

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