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Political Declaration Target 9 - HIV-Related Restrictions
Eliminate HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence
Restrictions on the movements of people living with HIV are not justified by current public health guidance. People living with HIV who travel do not pose a greater risk of HIV transmission than those who don’t. Movement restrictions also have the potential to be actively harmful, as they could limit the uptake of HIV testing and adherence to treatment.
Most countries currently discard restrictions and, positively, there is an international trend to expel those laws that do exist. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of countries with restrictions halved, from 96 to 43. Corporate CEOs of large international companies have also gone on record saying that companies need the freedom to send their employees overseas in order to financially succeed, and have highlighted that movement restrictions could be highly detrimental to employers and employees alike.
However, HIV-related restrictions are still in force in 43 countries. Only 4 of these have identified the lifting of restrictions as a priority issue. 5 have a blanket ban on entry, 5 require proof of an HIV-negative status for those seeking to stay for up to 90 days and at least 19 continue to authorise the deportation of people living with HIV.
Such laws rely heavily on discrimination, and make migrants particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, which is often never reported. Migrants who are female, sexual abuse survivors, or other victims of stigmatisation are also at a particular risk if they have no access to healthcare, are subjected to mandatory HIV testing, or are forced to reveal an HIV-positive status.
What still needs to be done?
- Accelerated progress towards ending movement restrictions. Senior officials need to be sensitised towards the experience of people living with HIV, and the outlook of law and reform needs to be advanced towards achieving the target.
- Governments of individual countries need to collaborate with civil society in order to build momentum. More effort needs to be made to educate and engage decision-makers within the ministries of health, interior, migration, justice and labour.
- Increase regional action in the Middle East and North Africa, whose migrants are the most affected. Countries that still have restrictions in place should learn and observe from countries in the same region that have no restrictions and have not experienced any negative outcomes.
- All countries should ensure that all people have access to HIV services for treatment, prevention, care and support.
- Only 3 of the 43 countries that still have restrictions in place are on track to achieve the target by 2015.