HIV Travel Bans Violate Human Rights, Hurt Business

Writing in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and Kenneth Cole, CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions and chair of the Board of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, discuss why some CEOs oppose HIV travel bans. “Restrictions based only on positive HIV status deny the entry, stay, residence or work visas for people living with HIV, even though the HIV virus can’t be transmitted through casual contact,” they write, adding, “These laws and policies not only violate human rights and don’t protect the public health, they also harm a business’s bottom line.”

“In today’s globalized economy and competitive landscape, work-related travel, and relocation are essential for corporations to succeed,” Bergh and Cole continue. “Many countries enacted travel restrictions ‘to protect the public health’ back in the 1980s when ignorance, fear, and prejudice surrounded HIV,” but “[t]here’s no evidence that HIV travel restrictions protect public health,” they write. “All of these reasons are why CEOs are taking a stand this World AIDS Day on December 1st. The CEOs of more than 40 companies, including our own — Levi Strauss & Co. and Kenneth Cole Productions — have signed an unprecedented pledge calling on the 45 remaining governments to lift their travel restrictions,” they continue, concluding, “Doing so will put an end to these archaic and discriminatory practices and will allow businesses to operate at their fullest potential on a global scale” (11/28).