Taiwan lifts travel ban for people living with HIV
Taiwan has lifted the ban on entry, stay and residence of foreigners living with HIV, as reported in the Taipei Times last week. The new law states that people wishing to stay in Taiwan for more than three months are no longer required to produce a recent HIV test, nor do they risk being deported or having their visas revoked if they find that they are living with HIV.
The news is a significant step forward for reducing stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV in the country. Travel bans have no public health benefit, as they only drive people away from accessing HIV testing and treatment services for fear of being diagnosed. Travel bans also impact upon people who are already living with HIV, as the fear created by these restrictions only fuels stigma and discrimination about HIV. The recognition that travel bans hamper HIV prevention efforts is slowly being recognised, however around 40 countries continue to impose some sort of travel restriction for people living with HIV.
In addition, Taiwanese law now states that people living with HIV can access antiretroviral treatment under the National Health Insurance, to eliminate any concern about cost. Amendments to testing legislation were also put in place, babies with no guardian can now be tested for HIV, whilst penalties were lifted for people living with HIV who refused treatment or further examination.