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India: Digital version of 1993 report ’Hard Times For Positive Travel’ released by AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan

26 September

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AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA)

Press Release

26 September, 2018

On the eve of ‘World Tourism Day’ AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) is releasing the digitized version of its report “Hard Times For Positive Travel” which originally appeared as a hard copy in September, 1993 at New Delhi, India. The document is a Citizens’ Report on the status of travellers with HIV/AIDS. It was prepared by nine ABVA members. The trigger point for this documentation was the inhuman and cruel treatment meted out to a French tourist visiting Calcutta (now Kolkata) who was deported from India on account of being HIV positive. As per media reports:

“In February 1992, a French tourist visiting Calcutta fell ill. She was taken by a colleague tourist to a private nursing home of Calcutta. At the nursing home the tourist informed the doctors that she is HIV positive. This set a chain reaction of panic. Instead of taking basic precautions for infection control, the health professionals only displayed the level of their ignorance which was evident from the sequence of events that followed. The patient, who had dehydration was shifted to another nursing home and subsequently deported from the country.”

At that time ABVA was concerned about the harassment and hounding out of HIV positive foreigners by the Indian Government, as also by governments all over the world. Foreign travellers everywhere were being targeted as high risk group which could spread HIV infection amongst the people of the country being visited. This was a monumental hoax perpetrated by the medical establishment. The irrational fear amongst the allopathic doctors was the only reason for the discrimination faced by HIV positive travellers – who were being forcibly tested, quarantined and deported back to their country of origin. Not a word of regret was being offered by the local governments. Foreign students found to be HIV positive were being sent back to their country of origin. This happened even at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Even the most advanced countries including USA resorted to deportation of HIV positive persons. An International AIDS Conference which was to be held in Boston was moved to Amsterdam in protest against US curbs on the movement of people carrying HIV infection.

While preparing the report ABVA sent letters to embassies and high-commissions of ninety-three countries to explain their immigration and visiting laws with respect to people with HIV/AIDS. Only seven of them chose to respond viz Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Jordan, Poland and Switzerland. These few countries had an overtly progressive position, while a number of those who practiced discriminatory policies remained silent.

A ten point Charter of Demands was presented by ABVA (see Report) to the Indian Government to have a scientifically oriented, humane solution in the context of HIV positive travellers to India. ABVA even petitioned the United Nations to take necessary steps so that member states of the U.N. bring a halt to the discrimination faced by HIV positive persons/ AIDS patients in the context of travel from one member country to another.

25 years after the ABVA’s report was released, 35 countries out of 193 countries (WHO list) still have HIV related travel restrictions.

India reportedly lifted all travel restrictions against HIV positive patients in 2010.

Shobha Aggarwal

ABVA member

Download and read the full report here:

Hard Times for Positive Travel - A Citizens Report on the Status of Travellers with HIV/AIDS
published by AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) [AIDS Anti-Discrimination Movement] New Delhi, Sept. 1993. [This document is hosted at sacw.net document archive]