UN Official Considers Immigration Restrictions Drop That Prevent HIV-positive People To Relocate

27 Aug 2010


UN AIDS chief Michel Sidibe said Australia should follow the USA and China which had recently removed their travel restrictions affecting people who were HIV positive.

He has plans to raise the issue in talks with the federal government during a visit to major UN summit in Melbourne.

To know that in Australia, we have a restriction for people living with HIV to come and to stay ... is a little bit painful for me," Mr Sidibe said.

"I will ask them (Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other officials) - I think it is something that needs to come through the due processes of your country, but it is something that Australia should deliver on."

Permanent visa applicants aged 15 years or older in Australia are required to have a HIV-AIDS test, and residency can then be denied on the grounds of the high cost of treatment.

Mr Sidibe said travel bans and residency restrictions had the effect of further entrenching the prejudice and disadvantage faced by HIV-positive people and, ultimately, they hindered the global response to the virus.

He also gave an address that said the global effort to curb the spread of HIV had reached a critical point where years of hard-fought gain could be lost.

"I think we are at the best of times, but unfortunately we are also at the worst of times, in the fight against HIV-AIDS," Mr Sidibe told the audience at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney on Friday.

On the positive side, he said the virus had prompted a cultural shift across Africa where it was now socially acceptable for parents to have candid discussions about sex with their adolescent children.

On the negative side, he said world leaders were due to meet in October to allocate the next tranche of funding to a global pool used to treat HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and $US20 billion was needed.

Mr.Sidibe said,"I am scared by what I am seeing now, for the first time in 15 years, a reduction in funding allocation," And added that any reduction in funding will be translating into a reduction in services already available today.


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