March 15, 2010
The deputy director-general of the Chinese Ministry of Health's Bureau of Disease Control said Friday that officials are in discussions to scrap the ban on visits by HIV-positive non-Chinese "as soon as possible." "Such a ban was put into effect in a time when we knew little about AIDS," Hao Yang said. "Now that we have realized it is unnecessary, it is time for us to lift it." "Attitude toward AIDS is a good indicator of a society's openness and confidence," said Huang Mengfu, president of the Red Ribbon Foundation, at whose meeting Hao was speaking. "China is making progress in this field as awareness of the disease is growing rapidly among the people." Hao commented on the ban in response to a question about Robert Dessaix, an HIV-positive Australian writer who was denied a visa to attend the International Literary Festival in Shanghai, a move that sparked a protest petition signed by nearly 100 prominent Australian authors. The United States dropped its longstanding ban on entry by HIV-positive non-nationals on Jan. 4.