Red Ribbon Travelers | HIV

GUIDE FOR THOSE TRAVELING WITH HIV

Our initiative aims to reduce the inconvenience and stigma all those affected by HIV / AIDS have while traveling for holidays or for work.

It is well known that HIV patients, albeit under viral anti-retro therapy and therefore in a regime of non-transmissibility of the virus, have problems entering important countries such as the Russian Republic or the Emirate of Dubai, our mission is to fight this discrimination. , but also to create the cultural conditions for a normal social life even in the normal world.

Another project that we plan to carry out through the support of the network is the creation of reception centers to give support to children with HIV / AIDS in South East Asia, the Kingdom of Thailand and neighboring countries. The Unites States of America removed its entry restrictions for people living with HIV in January 2010.

The legislative change in the USA and the similar changes announced recently in China received broad media coverage. We very much hope that these examples will have a domino effect, resulting in the revision of legislation in other countries which currently impose entry or living restrictions on people living with HIV (PLHIV).

We must also keep in mind that there are still countries in Europe maintaining restrictions which discriminate against people living with HIV. For many people, travel is an important aspect of life. Some choose to benefit from the positive quality-of-life effects which come from participating in leisure travel.

Others have to stay in foreign countries for long periods due to personal or professional reasons.

Our data collection has become a reliable point of reference for PLHIV, providing them with up-to-date information which allows them to decide on the most appropriate behaviour before travel, as well as acting as an indicator of the extent of discrimination against people with HIV face in different parts of the world.

Starting with an initial survey of foreign representatives in Germany and German representatives in foreign countries in 1999, we wanted to document the official legal regulations concerning entry and residence for PLHIV, and also to find out about their implementation in practice.

The data collected through our own research was complemented with other available information. In the subsequent years, feedback and information from all over the world was included in the continuous process of updating the data.

A new survey of all diplomatic representatives in 2007/2008 aimed to ensure that the data was up to date and gather current, reliable data on 192 countries. 

We currently lack information from 8 out of the 200 countries included in our survey. 66 of the 192 countries on which we have information have special entry regulations for PLHIV.

The majority of countries with entry restrictions require obligatory HIV tests from long term visitors and immigrants. It is a sad fact that so many countries continue to limit the free movement of PLHIV.

Although there is a distinction between entry regulations for tourists (tourist visa for a 1–3-month stay) and regulations for longer stays – the positive aspect of which is that tourist visits only rarely become a problem even for PLHIV- the fact that 31 (!) countries are willing to deport PLHIV or ask them to leave the country if HIV is diagnosed is frightening. Longer stays, for study purposes and for work, for instance, often require special permits from which PLHIV are excluded. In a few cases, there are also regulations for a country’s own citizens when they return from abroad.

 
Still Not Welcome
In 2019, 48 countries and territories impose some form of HIV-related restrictions and mandatory HIV testing that prevent people living with HIV from legally entering, transiting through or studying, working or residing in a country, solely based on their HIV status. Mehdi Beji (not his real name) couldn’t wait to start his new job in a North Africa Middle East country. He had packed his belongings and said his goodbyes in Tunisia and filed all the paperwork requested by his new employer. Before his contract was approved, he had submitted the results of the blood tests he had been asked to take, but after he started work he was requested to get his blood tested again. “After a month, I was contacted for an appointment to get my credit card, and when I arrived at the mall, I was arrested by the police,” Mr Beji said. At the police station he was informed he was HIV-positive and that the country’s laws deny residency to people living with HIV. "They deported me back to Tunisia without money and I was not able to recover my two months salary,” Mr Beji said. “When I contacted the bank, they informed me that the only way to access my account was through the bank card that they refused to grant me.”
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