Centre gets over Aids paranoia

Travel curbs no longer apply to HIV infected

Centre gets over Aids paranoia

 As World Aids Day approaches on Wednesday next week, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has communicated to its embassies, high commissions and consulates that travel restrictions will not apply on people infected by the deadly virus and desirous of visiting India.

Declaration scrapped

Accordingly, the HIVA status declaration column on visa forms would be scrapped.
Even though the Union Home Ministry withdrew the HIV testing requirement on visa forms way back in 2002, particularly for foreigners, including students, some Indian embassies and consulates continued to display the requirement of HIV test certificates on their websites as well as on visa forms.

The latest move by the MEA will ensure that HIV-related questions will not be asked on any visa application forms and does away with the existing ambiguity which resulted due to poor implementation of the earlier notification.

The discriminatory issue was taken up by the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV and Aids (FPA) whose member and Rajya Sabha MP E M Sudarsana Natchiappan asked a question in the House in April 2010.

Subsequently, the MEA issued a fresh notification on September 17, making it aptly clear a person wishing to visit India will neither have to conduct an HIV test nor declare it while applying for visa.

While the United States, China and most countries in Europe and a few South Asian nations have lifted travel restrictions on foreingers suffering from Aids, the Arab countries do not allow entry to HIV-positive visitors.

“Such regulations were issued by many countries in the 1980s when little was known about HIV, and there was more confusion and fear about the virus,” said Charles Gilks, UNAIDS Country Coordinator.

Globally there was no evidence that such restrictions prevent HIV transmission or protect public health, Gilks added.

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