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Singapore Eases Travel Ban on Foreigners with HIV

Singapore Eases Travel Ban on Foreigners with HIV


It can be tricky for travelers who are HIV positive, especially those visiting nations where fear has led to draconian laws. Some countries, however, are easing their restrictions.

Five months after lifting a travel ban on foreigners living with HIV, Singapore is confirming a report that they are now welcome — provided they don’t stay long.

Short-term visit restrictions ended April 1, according to a report in Straits Times.

"Lifting the short-term travel restrictions…poses very low additional risk of HIV transmission to the local population,” a spokesman for Singapore’s Ministry of Health confirmed to the newspaper. “However, the public health risk posed by long-stayers is not insignificant.”

For that reason, the ban on those looking for work in Singapore or adults accompanying a student traveling there for school, or others seeking long-term visits, is still in effect.

As our sibling magazine Plusreports, 45 countries, territories, and regions still have some legal restrictions on foreigners known to have HIV, according to a 2012 study compiled by UNAIDS.

The spokesman for the MOH explained that fear of the virus triggered Singapore's ban more than 30 years ago.

"The policy on the repatriation and permanent blacklisting of HIV-positive foreigners was recommended in the late 1980s when the disease was new, fatal and no effective treatment was available," the spokesman said.

However, "given the current context with more than 5,000 Singapore residents living with HIV and the availability of effective treatment for the disease,”  officials decided to lift the ban, without fanfare.

"People living with HIV infection who are on antiretroviral therapy and are successfully virally suppressed are not infectious to other people, added Professor Roy Chan, who is on the governing council of the International Aids Society and is also the president of Action for AIDS.

The rule is similar to immigration laws found in Australia and New Zealand, according to the spokesman.

You can read about the laws in other countries in our sibling publication, Plus, by clicking here. 

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