HIV Travel Ban Persists Abroad

Just a handful of nations persist in banning visits by HIV-positive foreigners, following President Barack Obama’s decision to lift the travel ban in the United States.

One such nation is South Korea, although a notable Korean, U.N. Secretary-General Ban

Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon

Ki-moon, is working to end discrimination against those infected with HIV around the world — and in his home nation.

South Korea has deported 521 foreigners diagnosed with HIV since 2008, and requires foreign residents to take HIV tests annually, as well as if they want to extend a work or residency permit, reported OhMyNews.

As of 2007, there were 13,000 people living with AIDS in South Korea — and the number keeps rising each year, despite the ban and deportations; OnMyNews reported that the actual number of infected people there may be much higher, but that the stigma of HIV infection deters Koreans themselves from getting tested.

Other nations that require testing include Belarus, Cuba, Malaysia, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Although South Africa has no HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay or residency, the

HIV/AIDS Worldwide

government there has deported hundreds of thousands of undocumented Zimbabwean workers who may infected with HIV, according to a report by the activist group Human Rights Watch.

The deportations amount to a “death sentence,” the group said. AIDS is widespread in Africa, medical treatment is often lacking, and Zimbabwe in particular is fraught with political and economic instability.

In China, laws are still on the books that prohibit the entry of HIV-positive travelers into the country, even though the Ministry of Health said in 2007 that it would lift the ban, reports China Daily.

President Obama has formally ended the 22-year-old U.S. ban on HIV-positive tourists entering the United States, but the change will not take effect until January 4, 2010.

Other nations that refuse entry to HIV-positive travelers include Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, as reported by CBC News.

The Moscow Times reported that Russia is keeping a close eye on developments in the United States as it considers whether to stop requiring foreign residents to be tested for HIV.

–Ronnie Lovler/


“GLOBAL: AIDS activists laud lifting of US HIV travel ban”
IRIN/Plus News: November 4, 2009

“U.N. urges nations to lift HIV travel ban”
Agence France Presse, November 1, 2009

“Returned to Risk: Deportation of HIV-Positive Migrants”
Human Rights Watch, September 23, 2009

“Ban congratulates US leader for lifting entry restriction based on HIV status”
U.N. News Center, October 31, 2009

“Visa rules ‘in need of clarification'”
China Daily, October 15, 2009

“Infected, Detected, Accepted?”
OhMyNews, October 12, 2009

“RIGHTS-US: NGOs Praise End to HIV Travel Ban”
Inter Press News Service, October 30, 2009

“Pressure Grows as U.S. Moves To Overturn HIV Travel Ban”
The Moscow Times, November 2, 2009

“Obama lifts HIV travel ban”
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, October 30, 2009

“Deporting HIV-Positive Migrants Threatens Lives, Global Goals”
HIV Travel Dot Org, September 24, 2009

“U.S. to end HIV travel ban in January”
Voice of America (U.S. Congress-funded), November 3, 2009

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