Positive examples are rare, but should give us courage that cooperative commitment can bring about change.
There are some countries which have eased or removed their restrictions in recent years.
The examples of the USA and China are an important victory in the fight against the global discrimination against PLHIV.
Canadian HIV and human rights activists did good work in advance of the World AIDS Conference in Toronto 2006 and obtained changes in the entry regulations for short-term visas.
This made it possible for PLHIV to participate in the conference and of course had longer-term benefits as well. Following this, in 2007 the International AIDS Society (IAS) re-stated that it would not hold an international AIDS conference in any country which refuses entry to PLHIV.
Pressure by the Global Fund to cancel a working meeting in China, if the Chinese government did not remove questions about HIV from the entry application form, shows that this subject has reached the global HIV community.
The creation of an International Task Team by UNAIDS is another positive sign that the situation regarding entry regulations for PLHIV is changing. Last but not least, the request of the UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon in June 2008 to end this form of stigmatization has met with worldwide resonance.
Let us hope that Ban Ki-Moon’s authority paves the way for the elimination of the harsh restrictions in South Korea, his home country.
A prerequisite for these positive developments was and is that the scope of the problem must be pointed out again and again. We are glad to see that our data collection has proved to be an extraordinarily strong political instrument in these processes.
The examples given above encourage us to keep combating the negative perception of PLHIV (cost factor, virus carriers, source of danger) which are the background of such discriminatory regulations.
Clarifying how HIV has changed in recent years and the contribution which PLHIV make to society is an important step against the policy of exclusion. Even after the legislative changes in the USA, the world at present is still not a very open place for PLHIV.
In order to change the situation we need to fight for fundamental human rights, closely connected with the lifesaving ability to secure financial survival and access to treatment and care. To reach these goals, we require your support.