International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions

khap | 2008.05.27 02:55
The International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions (Task Team) was established by UNAIDS in the beginning of 2008. The Task Team is an advisory/technical group whose role is to galvanise attention to HIV-related travel restrictions on national, regional and international agendas, calling for and supporting efforts toward their elimination. The principles of non-discrimination and the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV form the core of the Task Team’s work and provide the context in which its efforts are set. The work of the International Task Team is principally informed by the deliberations of two working groups: the Working Group on Short-term HIV-related Travel Restrictions and the Working Group Long-term HIV-related Travel Restrictions. The Steering Committee is comprised of the Government of Norway and UNAIDS acting as Task Team Co-chairs, the Global Fund, and the Co-chairs of the Working Groups (Short-term: Government of Brazil and Communities Delegation - Global Fund/AIDS Alliance)(Long-term: Government of the Philippines and CARAM Asia). The Task Team is supported by a Secretariat – the International AIDS Society.

The Task Team is comprised of representatives of governments, inter-governmental organizations and civil society, including the private sector and networks of people living with HIV. Task Team members have experience and expertise in national responses to HIV, HIV-related advocacy and law, migration, and the human rights of people living with HIV. Members of the Task Team, many of whom have been working in isolation on the elimination of HIV travel restrictions, have welcomed the establishment of the Task Team and see momentum building on the issue. (See list of governments and organizations represented on final page).

As of 23 April 2008, the Task Team has established an e-workspace, met twice, and held smaller teleconferences, to consider the various issues involved in HIV-related travel restrictions and steps that might be taken to move toward their elimination.

There appear to be 74 countries that impose some form of HIV-specific travel restrictions on people wishing to enter or remain in a country for a short stay, such as business, personal visits or tourism, or for longer periods, such as for labour migration, employment, asylum or refugee resettlement or study. Of these, 13 countries ban HIV positive people from entering for any reason or for any length of time. Seventy-two countries have no travel restrictions. For some 22 countries, the information is contradictory, and for 27 countries, there is no information.

In terms of largest impact, travel restrictions appear to be felt most by labour migrants who either do not know they are positive, and at the last minute, are excluded or deported on arrival, or go to a host country uninfected, and are deported when they become infected, often without confidentiality and into situations of discrimination and economic hardship. The most visible impact is when HIV positive people are denied entry into countries where major conferences on HIV are being held, against the principle of the greater involvement of people living with HIV in the response to AIDS.

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