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International News

China Maintains HIV/AIDS Entry Ban Despite Olympic Scrutiny

July 31, 2008

China is ignoring calls to lift its longtime ban on HIV-positive foreign visitors ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, despite recently removing a ban on visitors with leprosy.

Short-term entrants to China are required to declare their HIV status upon entry, while long-term stays require compulsory tests, according to the Global Database of HIV-related Travel Restrictions. While neither China's ministry of health nor the foreign ministry would comment on the ban, a spokesperson for the Beijing organizers said athletes and delegates will not have to disclose their HIV status. "For the Olympic family members, if he or she is an AIDS patient, he or she can still come to Beijing," said Zhu Jing.

Critics of the ban say lifting it could help reduce HIV/AIDS stigma in a country that has worked to address its patchy record on the disease. Connie Osborne, a senior World Health Organization advisor on HIV/AIDS in China, said she hoped the Chinese government would review the "sensitive issue" ahead of the Games. "When we do not address stigma and discrimination, people who may be affected and those at high risk tend to go underground," she noted.

Currently, some 67 countries have HIV-specific laws that restrict the entry of HIV-positive persons. Organizers of the International AIDS Conference, which will convene in Mexico City Aug. 3-8, have condemned countries that refuse to lift travel restrictions.

"International AIDS Society member experts in infectious disease and public health have long held that laws and policies barring the entry, stay or residence of HIV-positive people do not protect the public health and may in fact impede effective responses to HIV," the organization said recently.

Back to other news for July 2008

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
07.31.2008; Guy Newey

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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