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NZAF Part of Successful Lobby Against HIV Ban

MEDIA RELEASE: 2 NOVEMBER 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NZAF Part of Successful Lobby Against HIV Ban

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) has warmly welcomed the decision of the Obama administration to lift a ban on people living with HIV from entering the USA. New Zealanders who have been barred from entering the US because they have HIV, will be able to travel to, stay in and apply for visas to reside in the US from January 2010.

“The NZAF is delighted at the decision to lift the ban, which has been a long time coming”, says Rachael Le Mesurier, NZAF Executive Director. “This travel restriction has widely contributed to ongoing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. With it lifted, New Zealanders living with HIV are free to travel to the US with their partners, friends, family and whānau.”

In an August 2009 submission to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the ban, the NZAF asserted that protecting the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV leads to the most effective response to the HIV epidemic. The submission concluded “lifting the restrictions on people living with HIV from travelling, staying and residing in the US will return the position of the US as a leader in human rights for people living with HIV and unite the US with other nations, including Aotearoa New Zealand, in the global fight against AIDS.”

“In lifting this ban the US government is making a firm and bold statement that it acknowledges we all have a part to play in the development of an effective global response to HIV” says Le Mesurier.

In 2005, New Zealand introduced mandatory HIV testing for people applying for residency and for visas for longer than 12 months. The NZAF understand that currently people living with HIV who are staying for less than 12 months do not need to declare, or undergo a test for, their HIV status. However, Immigration New Zealand can request a certified HIV test from seasonal employment visa applicants from countries with a high prevalence of HIV.

ENDS

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