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China considering lifting ban on visitors with HIV/AIDS: report

[JURIST] China is considering lifting a 20-year-old ban that keeps foreigners with HIV/AIDS from entering the country, according to a China Daily report [text] Monday. Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said that he hopes the ban will be lifted before the upcoming Shanghai Expo in May, which is expected to draw four million tourists. China's Ministry of Health [official website, in Chinese] is working alongside other government agencies in order to revise the ban by May, but if they cannot meet the deadline it is likely that the government will grant special waivers permitting people with HIV/AIDS to enter specifically for the event, as they did during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Currently the ban requires those entering the country for a short visit to declare at the border they are HIV-free, and those staying longer are required to undergo blood testing. The ban was enacted preceding understanding of how the virus was transmitted. China is one of 70 countries that still denies entry to those with HIV/AIDS.

Monday's announcement is part of a larger effort to counter HIV/AIDS related discrimination in China. In 2007 the Ministry of Health relaxed strict policies [JURIST report] that denied all HIV-positive aliens entry to the country. In 2006, China issued its first guidelines on HIV/AIDS [JURIST report], banning discrimination against those infected by the virus and providing for free treatment.

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