Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

A must read for HIV-positive travellers

Posted: July 11, 2010 by Jesse in AIDS, HIV
Tags: , ,

So I am headed overseas in just under 6 weeks now… and it kind of got me thinking about the restrictions and bans that some countries have on HIV-positive people crossing their borders.  Now that I have my passport, and am going on my first international holiday as an adult, I am starting to get the drive to be looking at other international destinations.

I was already aware that some countries have bans, and that others have some restrictions and I was kind of glued to the news earlier in the year when the Unites States of America lifted their ban on HIV-positive people entering the country.  I thought I would jump online and do some investigating on what sort of restrictions were still in place and stumbled upon HIV travel, a fantastic resource for any HIV-positive traveller.

When I was diagnosed, I asked the clinic for any information brochures they had on HIV to help with my research and understanding of this disease.  One brochure they gave me was a resource on travelling with HIV that was published in 2008.

I was originally quite confused that the countries identified in the brochure as having entry bans are mostly different from the ones identified on the website listed above.  However after searching the ones identified in the brochure it became clear that whilst visiting these countries there are either no declaration of status required, no proof of test required and generally speaking you can be in the country for a designated amount of time before having to obtain a HIV test (usually for residency).

Some examples of this are:

Brunei

Whilst there is no mandatory testing for short-term stays, people who are known to be HIV positive are prohibited from entering.  If applying for a work and residence permit a HIV test is compulsory.  If HIV infection is detected, the person is immediately reported to authorities and expelled.

Armenia

There are no regulations regarding the entry of people with HIV/AIDS, however AIDS laws allow the deportation of HIV foreigners.

United Arab Emirates

Short-term stays are permitted however HIV medication cannot be imported. If applying for work and residence permit a HIV test will be required. This test must occur in the Emirates and residence will be denied if the result is positive. People with HIV may also be deported.

(Please note that airline passengers in transit through Dubai are not affected be these regulations).

It was fantastic to see that as at the 4th January 2010 there are no restrictions on HIV positive people entering the United States of America.  I have since decided that my next overseas vacation will be Canada, USA and Mexico. Where as previously I was disheartened to make this trip due to the restrictions/bans associated with traveling there as a HIV-positive person, it is now great to see that I will be able to make this trip and it is something I am really looking forward to!

There are a number of countries that have contradictory information regarding travelling as a HIV-positive person, so I recommend that if you are planning an overseas trip make sure you do some research to ensure you are not going to have any dramas upon arrival.  This is especially relevant to those who will require medication on their travels as some countries have restrictions on types and/or quantity of medication they allow to cross their borders.

As you will see if you visit the website (which I hope you do), the vast majority have limited restrictions to HIV positive travellers, and more often the restrictions or conditions are only relevant if seeking residency.

I did find Australia’s position on this topic rather interesting.

Australia

There are no restrictions for tourists, however HIV testing is still required for permanent visa applicants when the applicant is over the age of 15.  Permits of residency will only be granted to a HIV positive person who meets the following criteria

People with HIV may immigrate to Australia if one of the following criteria is met:

  • If he/she has a spouse (including a de facto spouse) who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she has a fiancé who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she has a long-term same-sex relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she is the dependent child of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Being a former Australian citizen
  • Being a refugee

People applying on one of the above grounds still have to satisfy the Australian authorities that they will not

  • Prejudice the access of Australian citizens to healthcare facilities
  • Be a risk to public health or safety
  • Constitute an undue cost to the Australian community.

Satisfying the first two criteria is not a problem for people with HIV, but they are sometimes refused permission to immigrate because of the cost of their health care.  Costs are assessed for each individual applicant, based on his/her life expectancy and on an estimate of the total cost of the medication and of the hospital and other medical care services the person might require.  It appears to the AFAO that this criterion is being enforced more harshly, and that more people with HIV are now being refused permission to immigrate because of the estimated costs of their healthcare, than was previously the case.

I find it of particular interest that Australian authorities will recognise same-sex relationships in this circumstance, but still deny recognition of same-sex relationships in an overall legal manner (marriage/civil union).  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is fantastic that same-sex relationships are recognised in the situation outlined above, just a bit odd that we don’t have the legal recognition of this partnership for those that wish to… I may just save that for another post.

Please feel free to add your own sources of information or opinion on this topic. I understand there are many different views and opinions, all of which are valid and welcomed.