Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations agency tasked with fighting the spread of HIV today congratulated the Republic of Korea and the United States for lifting “discriminatory” travel limits that previously prevented people living with HIV from entering both nations.
Mr. Ban lauded Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak on his country’s decision, which went into effect on 1 January, “in ending restrictions towards people living with HIV that have no public health benefit.”
He added, “I repeat my call to all other countries with such discriminatory restrictions to take steps to remove them at the earliest.”
For its part, the US announced last October that it was removing its travel barriers, and today the nation fully implemented the final rule that removes the restrictions. The move overturns the so-called “travel ban” in place since 1987 that places limitations on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV.
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), called the policy changes in both nations “a victory for human rights on two sides of the globe.”
He issued a “call for global freedom of movement for people living with HIV in 2010, the year when countries have committed to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
“Let no country obstruct someone because of their HIV status. Such discrimination has no place in today's highly mobile world,” Mr. Sidibé continued.
Currently, nearly 60 countries, territories and areas have some form of HIV-specific restriction on entry, stay and residence. Some places completely ban entry of HIV-positive people for any reason or length of stay, with some applying the restriction to short stays or longer ones, including for people applying for asylum and international employment.
“Such restrictions, strongly opposed by UNAIDS, are discriminatory and do not protect public health,” the agency stressed in a news release.