UN lauds Namibia’s lifting of travel ban for people living with HIV/AIDS

Michel Sidibé

8 July 2010 – The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today welcomed Namibia’s decision to remove travel restrictions for people living with the virus, a move that aligns the country’s laws with international public health standards.

The new legislation lifting restrictions for people living with HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases took effect in Namibia on 1 July.

Restrictions that limit movement based on HIV-positive status only are discriminatory and violate human rights, according to UNAIDS. There is no evidence that such restrictions prevent HIV transmission or protect public health, the agency said, adding that HIV-related travel restrictions have no economic justification, as people living with HIV can lead long and productive working lives.

“I am heartened by this announcement in Namibia,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director. “HIV-related travel restrictions serve no purpose and hamper the global AIDS response,” he added.

UNAIDS advocates for an individual’s right to freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status.

There are now 51 countries, territories, and areas that continue to impose some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status. Five countries deny visas even for short-term stays, while 22 countries deport individuals once their HIV-positive status is discovered.

The United States and China removed long-standing HIV-related travel restrictions earlier this year. Several other countries, including Ukraine, have pledged to take steps to remove such restrictions.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

New UN-backed body seeks to improve legal environment for tackling AIDS

Related Stories