News / Africa

Namibia Lifts HIV Travel Ban

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Namibia has lifted its long-standing travel ban for people living with HIV.

Namibian officials say even though there’s no record of enforcement of the ban, it did not reflect Namibia’s commitment to democracy and human rights.  UNAIDS praises the decision, saying the country is now in line with international public health standards.

“The fact that visitors coming to Namibia have to fill in a visa form where they are asked whether they suffer from a contagious disease, including HIV and AIDS, which is legally done as a basis to refuse them entry into the country, is a difficult issue to face,” says Henk Van Renterghem, UNAIDS country coordinator for Namibia.

What’s more, he adds, “It’s discrimination against people suffering from a disease.”

The right thing to do

Van Renterghem says besides being “the right thing to do” in bolstering human rights, lifting the ban supports the country’s public health policy.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that limiting mobility or travel of people living with HIV has any effect on the epidemic.  And in this sense, people who live with the disease…get the wrong impression they should be somehow contained in their mobility and in their rights to move around freely,” he says.

The United States and China recently lifted their long-standing HIV travel restrictions.  But UNAIDS reports there are “51 countries, territories and areas that continue to impose some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status.”

It goes on to say that five countries deny visas for even short-term stays, while 22 countries “deport individuals once their HIV status is discovered.”

Relic of the past?

“Most of these regulations and laws were put in place in the early days of the epidemic,” says Van Renterghem.  “It gives a very wrong impression of how we treat people living with HIV.  We know that stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV…reduce to a large extent…the capacity to access services.”

He says lifting such bans sends a message to HIV-positive people that “we care about you.  You’re equal to all other citizens and we everything to put in place a framework that allows us to provide the best possible services.”

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe has designated 2010 the year of lifting of HIV travel restrictions.

“That’s why it’s important that countries (such) as the U.S., China and Namibia actually effectively lift these regulations,” Van Renterghem says.

Rights here, right now

The 18th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2010, will be held in Vienna from July 18th through the 23rd.  The theme of the conference is Rights Here, Right Now.  Van Renterghem says a number of news conferences and sessions are planned on the travel ban issue.

UNAIDS says, “There is no evidence that such restrictions prevent HIV transmission or protect public health. Furthermore, HIV-related travel restrictions have no economic justification, as people living with HIV can lead long and productive working lives.”

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs