Understanding the Impact of Travel Restrictions on Persons Living with HIV

Melbourne, Australia: Among the challenges faced by persons living with HIV are international travel restrictions.  Reportedly, at least 50 countries prohibit persons with HIV from entering.  Some countries expel or deport foreigners having acquired the disease while in that country.

During the 20th International AIDS Conference, travel restrictions were discussed by panelists from the USA, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, India, Germany, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Owie Franco shared his personal story of the impact of these travel restrictions. Franco reports that he travelled from the Philippines to work in Saudi Arabia.  He noted that his job performance was satisfactory and he enjoyed his work.  Franco claims that as a condition of his work visa the Saudi Arabian government required him to undergo medical tests after he had settled into his new job.

Franco contends that without his consent the test results were given to his employer.  These results reportedly showed that Franco had acquired HIV.  Franco said that he then was deported because he had acquired HIV.  Franco reports that he lost his job and the deportation negatively affected his personal life as well.

Alice Sorgho-Ouedraogo, Chief HIV/AIDS and the World of Work Branch for the International Labour Organization in Switzerland, reports that health-related travel restrictions affect a growing number of persons, including female workers, migrating between and among countries to accept job offers.  She outlined several ways in which travel restrictions might be addressed:

  • continue building evidence to provide policymakers with the scientific and other information they need to assist them when making decisions about health-related travel restrictions;
  • develop inter-regional dialogue among countries about travel restrictions affecting workers; and
  • encourage countries to adopt policies that provide for voluntary testing and ensure confidentiality of test results.


Dr. Anne T. Sulton, Esq.

Jackson Advocate Senior International Correspondent

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