How can the scientific knowledge, expertise and passion of dedicated HIV professionals be applied to the struggle against HIV-related travel restrictions? With the U.S. entry ban lifted, it's easy to forget that approximately 44 countries around the world maintain some form of HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, residence and/or work. The realities of globetrotting HIV professionals attending international conferences (including the upcoming 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia -- a country that does impose HIV-related travel restrictions) throw these entry impediments into sharp relief. However, the reach and impact of these restrictions extend from those whose work requires travel to migrants and those seeking asylum, and range from visa application complications to detention or even deportation due to HIV status. These restrictions pose profound negative implications on human rights and have no proven public-health benefit -- and can in fact shroud participating nations in a false sense of assurance that such bans, and not sound health policy, will keep HIV in their country at bay.
In a session at the International AIDS Society conference earlier this year, experts assessed the progress we have made and the challenges that remain to review and eliminate HIV-related entry, stay and residence restrictions, with a particular focus on the role the scientific community can play in promoting evidence- and human rights-based migration policy. Steven Kraus, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, begins by framing these restrictions as a form of stigma and a hindrance to the goal of "zero discrimination." Other distinguished panelists from around the globe provided an overview of the HIV-related vulnerability faced by migrant workers and the implications for public health and human rights, and also shared personal experiences of being deported after testing HIV positive while abroad.
The session included a discussion of the ongoing efforts to lift Australia's restrictions in the context of planning for the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.
Towards "Zero Discrimination": What Can Scientists Do to Help End HIV-Related Restrictions on Entry, Stay and Residence?
Evening Satellite (TUSA02) on Tuesday, 2 July 2013, at the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Organizers: IAS, UNAIDS, EATG, GNP+.
(Click on the times [XX:XX:XX] to skip to the respective presentation.)
- Global Overview of HIV-related Restrictions on Entry, Stay and Residence
Steven Kraus, UNAIDS [00:00:00]
- Migration, Human Rights and HIV in South East Asia
Irene Fernandez, human rights activist (Malaysia) [00:15:56]
- Migration and HIV: A Story from the Gulf
Owie Franco, community activist, former migrant worker (Philippines) [00:33:06]
- Making a Difference; Monitoring Progress
Peter Wiessner, Global Database on HIV-specific Travel and Residence Restrictions (Germany) [00:44:02]
- Migration in the Middle East: Opportunities for Dialogue
Renu Chahil-Graf, director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt) [00:57:08]
- HIV and Immigration: Australia Current and Proposed Policy
Levina Crooks, chief executive officer, Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (Australia) [01:07:13]
- Strategies on Human Rights and Migration: A View from Malaysia
Marina Mahathir, journalist, activist and former head of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (Malaysia) [01:20:33]
Chaired by Judith Auerbach, USA, and Steven S. Kraus, UNAIDS.
(Disclaimer: georgetown media was not directly responsible for the audio recording at this session.)
Read the abstract or download PowerPoint slides of this session.
The video above was produced by georgetown media and has been posted on TheBodyPRO.com with permission.
Olivia Ford is the executive editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.