By Cassandra Novick
The Republic of Korea was praised at the International AIDs conference in Washington, D.C. Monday for lifting travel restrictions on HIV positive travelers hours before the conference convened on Sunday.
Kim Bong-hyun, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, made the announcement Sunday via a satellite appearance at the conference.
“I am pleased to state, on behalf of my government, that the Republic of Korea has no HIV-specific travel restrictions under the Immigration Control Act and its implementing regulations,” Kim Bong-hyun said.
South Korea lifted its travel bans on HIV positive travelers on January 1st, 2010. However, restrictions still remained, including the potential expulsion of travelers found to be HIV positive and a mandate to provide proof of a traveler’s HIV status after remaining in South Korea for three months.
There are eight countries, including South Korea, that have lifted travel bans and restrictions of HIV-positive travelers since 2010. However, 45 countries retain discriminatory travel restrictions on HIV-positive travelers.
The United States was until relatively recently among the countries with travel restrictions on HIV positive individuals.
Soon after hosting the 1990 International AIDs conference in San Francisco, the US travel ban was implemented, thus preventing the 1992 International AIDs conference from being held in Boston.
On January 4th, 2010 the US travel ban on HIV positive travelers was lifted after bipartisan efforts were made under both the Bush and Obama administrations to repeal the ban.
The 2012 International AIDs conference celebrates the lifting of the US travel ban and marks the first time in 22 years that conference is being held in the US.
UNAIDS and the Global Business Coalition on Health have taken on the initiative to get 100 CEOs to sign a pledge speaking out against these travel restrictions by World AIDs Day 2012.