The organisers say to date there are still 46 countries, territories and areas that apply some form of restrictions on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV.
“In many cases, these restrictions were put in place when there was great fear and little knowledge about how HIV was transmitted and what the health implications were of being HIV positive,” they said.
They argue that with significant advancements in scientific knowledge about HIV and its prevention and treatment, even more reasons to remove such restrictions have now become apparent.
Dr Paul de Lay, Deputy Executive Director of the UNAIDS Programme was cited in a press release saying, “Every individual should have the right to freedom of movement, regardless of their HIV status. UNAIDS is opposed to any restriction imposed on people living with HIV and restricting movement only on the basis of their HIV status. These restrictions are discriminatory.”
Over the years, public health and human rights experts have called for the removal of such restrictions, arguing that apart from being discriminatory, travel restrictions have no public health justification.
“Often they open the door to additional forms of abuse including violation of the human rights of people living with HIV and an increase in stigma,” they said in the press release.
The conference is returning to the US after 22 years under the theme “Turning the Tide Together”.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi