Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations
China Lifts HIV Travel Ban
For too long the United States had in place a federal law prohibiting those infected with HIV from entering the US —_ unless special permission was given. Scientific evidence, even calls by sitting and past Surgeon Generals, did nothing to reverse the law.This situation persisted until early January 2010 when the US government took the final administrative steps to remove the HIV travel ban. The ban was a painful reminder of the stigma and discrimination often directed at those who are (or are suspected of being) HIV positive.Today marks yet another twist in the saga. Surprisingly, China, too, has now turned a page and joined a long and growing list of nations that will no longer bar those infected with HIV from entering its borders. For China, criticized by international groups and governments for its appalling record on human rights, this is certainly a positive step forward in the struggle for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.While we should take a moment to acknowledge and applaud China’s actions, we must all stand vigilant and monitor the implementation of this new policy to ensure China’s intentions match its rhetoric.We, too, should be mindful that many countries continue to restrict the “entry, stay and residence of people living with [or suspected of living with] HIV.” These are appalling restrictions that require continued international attention and action toward removing these discriminatory policies and mounting a truly effective global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.