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New Zealand Drops Visa Restrictions Against People Living With HIV

New Zealand Lifts Visa Restrictions for People Living With HIV

Immigration authorities in New Zealand have removed HIV from a list of medical conditions used to deny resident visa requests from nonnationals. In the past, HIV was deemed to pose too great a cost and burden on local health services, and immediately disqualified visa applicants. According to a report in Stuff, the move means people living with HIV applying for visas will now be considered on an individual basis.

“Previously, Immigration New Zealand was obliged to determine that a resident visa applicant with HIV did not have an acceptable standard of health,” Dr. Rob Kofoed, chief medical officer of Immigration New Zealand, told Stuff.

The chief executive of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation called the move a “proud moment” that reflects the reality of medical advancements like PrEP.

“People living with HIV who maintain [an] undetectable viral load do not transmit the virus through sexual contacts,” Dr. Jason Myers said.

The executive director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, also hailed the move, while noting other countries still maintain discriminatory travel restrictions.

“I commend New Zealand for taking this important step and hope that it will encourage other countries to remove all travel restrictions and other policies that discriminate against people living with HIV,” Byanyima said in a statement.

 

UNAIDS reports there are still 46 countries, territories, and other areas that have travel restrictions for people living with HIV. Some, like the Russian Federation, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, outright deport and deny entry to non-nationals living with HIV.

You can access an interactive map to learn more about each country’s travel policies for people living with HIV at UNAIDS.org

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