More Than 40 CEOs Urge 45 Countries To Lift HIV Travel Restrictions

In a joint initiative headed by GBC Health, UNAIDS, and Levis Strauss & Co., more than 40 CEOs have signed a pledge urging 45 countries to repeal policies and laws restricting travel for people living with HIV, reports (Doheny, 11/28). “CEOs oppose HIV travel restrictions because they are discriminatory and because to succeed in today’s globalized economy, companies must be able to send their employees and best talent overseas, regardless of their HIV status,” according to a joint press release. Forty-five countries, including key hubs for international business, “still deny entry, stay, residence or work visas for people living with HIV,” the press release notes (11/28). Restrictions in some countries “also include denial of work visas, disallowing short-term stays for business trips or conferences, and blocking longer-term stays, such as residence-for-work relocations and study-abroad programs, according to UNAIDS,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/28).

As part of the initiative, a full-page ad (.pdf) in the Financial Times states, “These obsolete laws are holdovers from the 1980s, when ignorance, prejudice and fear surrounded HIV transmission. They are unnecessary and unjust, but also unwise. HIV travel laws impede commerce, making them bad for humanity and for the bottom line. To end such backward policies once and for all, we are asking CEOs in the global business community to take a stand and call on countries to end these restrictions” (11/29). Some companies whose CEOs signed the pledge include Levi Strauss & Co., Aetna, Johnson & Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company, Pfizer, Heineken, Merck, the National Basketball Association, Kenya Airways, and Thomson Reuters, the U.N. News Centre notes (11/28).