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International News

HIV Victims Positively Unwelcome

August 16, 2010

Today, 66 countries, territories and areas deny entry, stay or residence to HIV-positive individuals, according to the International AIDS Society. Among them: 26 deport migrants testing HIV-positive; seven bar stays beyond certain timeframes; and six deny entry for the short-term. Many HIV-related travel restrictions were enacted during the early epidemic and reflected a period of fear, ignorance, and prejudice about the disease, said IAS.

"These laws are not consistent with current scientific knowledge, best practices in public health, and humanitarian principles," said Craig McClure, executive director of IAS. "They sustain a culture of exclusion, rights violations, and marginalization that impedes an effective response to the epidemic."

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Such laws pressure people into hiding their HIV status, the World Health Organization says. People may choose not to carry HIV medications on international trips to countries with unfriendly policies, raising the risk of drug-resistant HIV. "Furthermore, because drug resistance allows HIV to replicate in the body more freely, people with higher viral loads are also more infectious," WHO said.

In one example from India, Harjeet, a villager from the Punjab region, dreamed of going to work in a rich Gulf state during the mid-1990s. During a mandatory medical exam, the doctor would only tell Harjeet that "something is wrong" with his blood test. The doctor said he would hide the results for a 2,000 rupee (US $43) "commission."

Nonetheless, in Saudi Arabia Harjeet underwent a secondary medical exam and was soon after shocked to be placed in an isolated jail cell. The next day a court ordered him deported for testing positive for HIV.

On returning to India, Harjeet discovered that his wife left the family home with their two children. After a period of severe depression and illness, Harjeet eventually returned to health thanks to support from a care center and now works with people who have HIV.

Back to other news for August 2010

Adapted from:
Times of India
08.14.2010; Kounteya Sinha


  
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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.
 
See Also
Newsroom: August 2010

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