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Singapore allows HIV-positive foreigners on short-term visits

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Singapore: Singapore has lifted a two-decade old ban on visits by HIV-positive foreigners who intend to stay for a short period, citing “availability of effective treatment”.

However, the ban on HIV-positive foreigners who are looking to work in Singapore or accompanying a child studying here and intend to stay for a long period is still in place.

The ban on short-term HIV-positive visitors was lifted on April 1, but it stays on long-term visitors, The Straits Times reported today.

“The policy on the repatriation and permanent blacklisting of HIV-positive foreigners was recommended in the late 1980s when the disease was new, fatal and no effective treatment was available,” a Ministry of Health spokesman was quoted as saying by the daily.

The short-term ban was lifted “given the current context with more than 5,000 Singapore residents living with HIV and the availability of effective treatment for the diseases.”

“Lifting the short-term travel restrictions… poses very low additional risk of HIV transmission to the local population,” the spokesman said.

However, the public health risk posed by long-stayers is not insignificant, hence the restriction on long-term visits has been retained.

The Singapore rule is similar to immigration laws in other countries like Australia and New Zealand, he added.

Foreigners in Singapore, excluding permanent residents and spouses of Singaporeans, found to be HIV-positive will be deported and put on a permanent blacklist.

A spokesman for advocacy group ‘Action for Aids’ has welcomed the change, but said the restrictions should also be lifted for long-term visitors.

“People living with HIV or Aids are not criminals and should not be banned from entering the country.

“(They) can and should be able to have fulfilling and rewarding lives, with loving relationships and be integrated as part of the community. Unfortunately, discrimination is still prevalent,” the daily quoted the spokesman as saying.