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GLOBAL: Headaches for HIV-positive travellers

NAIROBI, 6 May 2010 (IRIN) - China recently became the latest country to lift travel restrictions on people living with HIV, following in the footsteps of the United States.

"Every individual should have equal access to freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commented on China's decision.

According to UNAIDS, 51 countries, territories and areas still impose restrictions on the entry, stay and residence of HIV-positive people. IRIN/PlusNews has listed some of the countries with particularly harsh restrictions:

United Arab Emirates - An HIV test, performed in the UAE, is required when applying for a residence visa or work permit. If the result is positive, the person is detained and deported. In February 2009, local media quoted Health Minister Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Quttami as saying that 627 people had been deported from the UAE, based on their HIV status.

The Republic of Korea - South Korea was widely lauded for lifting travel restrictions based on HIV status in January 2010, but a Ministry of Health spokesperson said re-entry could still be restricted for HIV-positive individuals deemed to be a threat to public health.

Korean AIDS activists said the Ministry of Labour has an administrative instruction that requires HIV testing for all migrant workers registered under the foreign employment permit system, but without the appropriate pre- and post-test counselling or safeguards of confidentiality.

Qatar - All foreigners planning to travel or reside in Qatar for longer than one month must undergo a medical examination and an HIV test in the country. In 2008, more than 100 foreigners who tested positive for HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis were deported.

Russia - An HIV test is required for stays exceeding three months, or for multiple entry visas. In 2008, 1,579 foreigners tested HIV-positive, most of whom were reported to the migration authorities, and 198 were deported

Sudan - Immigration laws prohibit HIV-positive people from entering and/or living in the country. Visa requirements include a negative HIV test result, to be presented at a Sudanese embassy or Khartoum airport. Anecdotal reports suggest that these regulations are not always carried out in practice.

Singapore - No HIV test is required for tourist or business visa applications of up to 30 days, but people intending to stay longer than one month, those applying for social visit passes, employment passes, long-term immigration passes and permanent residence, must have a medical examination, including TB and HIV tests.

Singapore's immigration law lists people living with HIV as "prohibited immigrants".

Brunei - No HIV test is required for short-term visits, but people wishing to work or study in Brunei must undergo a health examination, including an HIV test, in their country of origin and again within two weeks after entering Brunei.  A positive test leads to deportation.

Egypt - Foreign residents and their dependents aged 15 or older applying to work study or train in Egypt for longer than 30 days require an HIV test. A positive test results in expulsion.

Iraq - HIV-positive persons are prohibited from entering. Anyone wishing to stay in the country longer than 10 days must take an HIV test.

Armenia - A negative HIV certificate is required by all foreigners applying for visas. Until 14 July 2009, HIV-positive foreigners already in the country were subject to deportation. Since that date a new law has specified that HIV-positive foreigners would not be deported, but a foreigner applying for a visa still has to present a negative HIV test.

Kazakhstan - Visitors applying for work or residence permits must submit negative HIV test results with their application to the Migration Police in the city where they intend to work or live. People found to be HIV-positive are deported.

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Theme (s): Economy, Governance, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Migration, PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews, Stigma/Human Rights/Law - PlusNews,

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

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