PRESS RELEASE FROM AIDS FONDS & HIV VERENIGING NEDERLAND

       
Amsterdam, 16 February 2006

Temporary lifting of travel ban to the US for people living with HIV is only for show

A single-entry travel visa for people with HIV to attend the Gay Games (Chicago, July 2006) in the United States does not mean the end of the blanket travel ban for people living with HIV/AIDS. In fact, it makes travelling via or to the US on future occasions completely impossible. In the Netherlands, the HIV Association and the Aids Fonds are calling on their government to urge the American authorities to put an immediate end to all entry restrictions for people with HIV.

Background

A blanket travel ban to the US applies to people with HIV as this could endanger public health, according to the US Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212. People with HIV are given a single-entry visa to attend special events such as the Gay Games or the UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, New York, June 2006).

The US travel ban infringes the international right to travel and goes against the view of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, UNAIDS and the Dutch government that a travel ban discriminates against people with HIV. They all agree that a complete ban makes no contribution whatsoever to the protection of public health.
Views of the Dutch HIV Association (HVN) and the Aids Fonds
The HVN and the Aids Fonds are of the opinion that the ban, in effect, discriminates and stigmatizes. Each and every citizen of the US can protect themselves against the HIV virus.

A temporary lifting of the ban is only for show. The applicant's details are registered at the Immigration Service so the next time that person tries to travel to or via the US, they can be refused entry. This is because a so-called visa waiver was applied for before, and the Immigration Service will wonder why that occurred. The same risk is taken if someone fills in a visa waiver form incorrectly in the plane – although actually mentioning their HIV infection would lead to a refusal.

“So it's almost impossible for an advocacy organization to be present at the UNGASS in June”, says Jelle Houtsma, chairman of the HVN. “And it is at that meeting where there will be discussions about how we should best continue the fight against HIV/AIDS and what should be done about the discrimination and stigmatisation of people with HIV”. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs would very much like the HVN to be part of the Dutch delegation.

Appeal

Both the HVN and the Aids Fonds are appealing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to call the American authorities' attention to all entry restrictions for people with HIV and to urge them to lift any bans. They are also asking him to make the Dutch view known at multilateral and/or European forums and during the UNGASS in June.

For further information:

Jelle Houtsma (Chairman of the HIV Association) +31 (0)6 50 54 79 82
Margot Mulder (Aids Fonds) +31 (0)20 626 26 69 or (0)6 52 15 54 24
USA Contact: Ingrid Kloet (New Mexico POZ Coalition) Ingrid@spinn.net
 +1-505-280-2218

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