China plans to lift HIV visitor ban

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China plans to lift HIV visitor ban
Beijing, Apr 21: China is considering the amendment of its visas regulations that bans HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country to increase the flow of tourists attending the six month long World Expo in Shanghai, which is beginning on May 2010.

Officials said that they are planning to lift up the ban after the State Council, China's Cabinet's decision to amend laws barring foreign HIV patients from entering the country, state run newspaper reported on Wednesday, Apr 21.

The existing visa regulations restrict foreigners suffering from mental disorders or infectious diseases like leprosy and HIV/AIDS from entering the country.

Currently, foreigners applying for resident permits has to produce medical certificates and undergo stringent tests after arrival.

Declining to announce the exact date of the plan, Hao Yang, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau said that the changes will be announced before the official opening of Shanghai Expo on May 1, whic is expected to attract several million visitors from abroad.

China, which is home to HIV-positive population of 740,000, one of the countries which bans AIDs patients only because of their HIV status.

The decision to implement the visa rules has drawn appreciation from every quarters.

"The ban imposed in the 1980s due to a lack of knowledge is obsolete and discriminatory," said He Xiong, deputy director of the Beijing centre for disease prevention and control.

"As HIV/AIDS cases have been seen in all provinces in China, a travel ban on foreigners will not help local public health," he noted.

"It also affected rising international exchanges and a global campaign against HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and stigma," he said.

"In fact, years before the upcoming change to the law, the Chinese government had realised the existing problems and taken measures to address that," said Professor Jing Jun of Tsinghua University.

In 1995, the China replaced the mandatory HIV screening for foreigners who wanted to enter the country with voluntarily claim by the person to their health conditions, including HIV/AIDS status.

However, during major international events like the 2008 Beijing Olympics, government allows HIV patients to enter the country for the event.

"Such practices date back to September 1995 when China hosted the 4th World Conference on Women," said Hao.

OneIndia News

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