China To Change Law Restricting HIV-Positive People From Entering Country
China plans to end restrictions preventing people with HIV/AIDS from traveling to the country, Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said Thursday at a news conference, Reuters reports. Kazatchkine said, "The new law, which hopefully will be passed in the coming months, will be in line with the global conventions, which recognize that travel restrictions for HIV-positive people do not have any public health value."
Huang Jiefu, China's vice minister of health, did not give a timeline for when the new regulations will take effect but said, "Modifying laws and regulations is quite a complicated process, and it takes some time. I must be very candid with you, that this process has not been completed yet." He added, "I would like to ask the international community and the media to rest assured that China would honor its commitment."
Kazatchkine and Huang at the conference also announced a two-year, $5.8 million grant. Huang said, "It is hoped that through the implementation of the project, civil society and nongovernmental organizations could be further encouraged to participate in the work against AIDS."
Civil society HIV/AIDS advocates often are subject to harassment, and some of them have been prevented from leaving the country to attend conferences. In addition, local authorities have imposed restrictions on other advocates out of fear that publicity resulting from the activities might have a negative effect in their regions, according to Reuters.
Kazatchkine said, "We were told both by our colleagues from the Ministry of Health and by our colleagues from civil society that working together is a process that requires time and effort on both parts" (Beck, Reuters, 11/8).