Health ministry hints at end to HIV travel restrictions

Image copyright Sipa Image caption The African health ministry says the restrictions are ‘unsustainable’ Several African countries are considering changing travel restrictions for those with HIV, according to the World Health Organisation. The move…

Health ministry hints at end to HIV travel restrictions

Image copyright Sipa Image caption The African health ministry says the restrictions are ‘unsustainable’

Several African countries are considering changing travel restrictions for those with HIV, according to the World Health Organisation.

The move follows the decision of the Democratic Republic of Congo to end the prohibition on antiretroviral treatment.

It is part of a larger push to allow people in the world’s most closed-off nations greater access to HIV drugs.

Those with HIV are already free from border restrictions to access such drugs, but only from a handful of countries.

On Sunday, South Africa’s health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, announced that he would allow those with HIV access to new antiretroviral drugs, or just one of them, at a cost of around 30,000 South African rand (£1,874; $2,464).

Access from a short distance

Previously, the country needed the consent of all of its nationals from any country that did not offer these drugs and he would review their case on a case-by-case basis.

South Africa is one of three nations where travel restrictions remain in place.

Madagascar, of which El Salvador is the other country, is the only one offering treatment for HIV from its own borders.

Image copyright Sahara Image caption After there was a serious outbreak of the Encephalitis V virus in Malawi, it loosened restrictions

Two other countries – Zambia and Rwanda – allow only treatment from government health centres.

Chad is another country that offers antiretroviral drugs to foreigners on a limited basis, as well as sparing those from West Africa from having to travel long distances to get them.

In south-east Asia, four nations offer HIV drugs, which are generally provided by governments, allowing HIV-positive visitors to stay in the countries for up to three years.

But there are no any restrictions on those who are already HIV-positive.

Antiretroviral drugs and other treatments are one of the most effective ways of keeping HIV at bay, and in recent years has made antiretroviral treatment become a common in African countries.

Antiretroviral drugs help prevent transmitting the virus to others, and are also key in controlling more common strains.

Image copyright Sahara Image caption The state of the World Health Organisation’s biomedical library, which operates the big databases and is vital for HIV researchers and medics Image caption The African health ministry says the restrictions are ‘unsustainable’

In 2011, the then-South African president, Jacob Zuma, announced that the country would no longer restrict access to antiretroviral drugs, but it was only in February 2018 that it started the process of lifting its travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Dakar Declaration to open up access to medicines was issued at the G7 Summit in Italy in May 2018.

It called for elimination of travel and immigration bans and restrictions on the use of medicines for people living with HIV and called for guidelines for allocating HIV treatment to vulnerable countries.

“The signing of this declaration is a turning point in the treatment of HIV/Aids, for which the signatories have already demonstrated an unprecedented commitment and commitment through concerted action,” Senegal’s Minister of Health, Souleymane Kaddour, said at the time.

Closing borders

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