RECOMMENDATION OF THE IPU ADVISORY GROUP ON HIV/AIDS|
ON HIV-RELATED TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Endorsed by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)
HIV-related travel restrictions
- Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, some countries have denied entry to people living with HIV, or deported them, on the grounds of their positive HIV status. In fact, HIV-related travel restrictions restrict a broader range of mobility than the word "travel" implies, applying to HIV-positive people who seek to engage in tourism, business travel, employment abroad, labour migration, study, and immigration. They can also be used to restrict the entry or stay of those who seek asylum.
- HIV-related travel restrictions usually take the form of a law or administrative instruction that requires people to indicate their HIV-free status before entering a country. Some countries require people to have an HIV test, while others require an HIV-free certificate or simply that people declare their HIV status.
- Governments usually cite two reasons for such laws. One is to protect public health by preventing the spread of HIV into a country, and the other is to avoid the potential costs of care, treatment and support arising from the stay of a person living with HIV.
- The International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights state that any restriction on liberty of movement or choice of residence based on suspected or real HIV status alone, including HIV screening of international travelers, is discriminatory.
- It is argued that besides being discriminatory, travel restrictions have no public health justification. HIV is not a condition that poses a threat to public health in relation to travel because the human immunodeficiency virus cannot be transmitted by the mere presence of a person with HIV in a country or by casual contact. Restrictive measures can in fact run counter to public health interests, since exclusion of HIV-positive non-nationals adds to the climate of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, and may thus deter nationals and non-nationals alike from coming forward to utilize HIV prevention and care services.
- Travel restrictions do not have an economic justification either. People living with HIV can now lead long and productive working lives. Concern about migrants’ drain on health resources should be weighed against their potential contribution to a country’s economy.
- According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 63 countries, territories and areas impose some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status. Some eight countries declare all people living with HIV inadmissible for any reason or length of time. An additional five countries deny visas for even short-term stays. Twenty-eight countries deport individuals once their HIV-positive status is discovered. One hundred and three countries have no HIV‑specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence.
International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions
- In January 2008 UNAIDS set up the International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions. The Task Team worked from February to October 2008 to review evidence, discuss issues, make findings and develop recommendations towards the elimination of HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence.
- The IPU participated in the work of the Task Team. Other Team members included representatives of governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, the private sector and civil society, and networks of people living with HIV.
- The Task Team confirmed that HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence based on HIV status are discriminatory, do not protect public health and do not rationally identify those who may cause an undue burden on public funds.
- The Task Team made a set of findings and recommendations for the attention of governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, private sector and civil society. The five general recommendations of the Task Team are annexed to this document.
- The Executive Committee has reviewed the five recommendations of the Task Team and proposes their endorsement by the Governing Council.
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RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL TASK TEAM ON
HIV - RELATED TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
- The International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions urges all States with HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence, in the form of laws, regulations, and practices, including waivers, to review and then eliminate them, and ensure that all people living with HIV are no longer excluded, detained or deported on the basis of HIV status.
- The International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions urges all States to ensure the full protection of the human rights of people living with HIV in the context of mobility, under the international human rights framework.
- The International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions urges civil society organizations, including people living with HIV, at global, regional and national levels to promote awareness of how HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence based on HIV status are discriminatory, can interfere with human rights principles, and propagate HIV stigma, and call for their urgent removal.
- In the context of increasing globalization, the International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions urges the private sector to support and participate in efforts to eliminate HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence, as part of respect for and protection of the human rights of people living with HIV.
- The International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions encourages the relevant international, regional and national human rights mechanisms and institutions to monitor the impact of HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence.
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