January 4th marked a critical moment in social change – the official end of the HIV/AIDS related entry, stay and residence restrictions (more commonly known as the “travel ban” ) in place since 1987. NASW Social Work Speaks policy statements clearly support the removal of the ban, and views this and related restrictions as discriminatory and limiting a client’s right to care and treatment.
Social workers and allied professions have long viewed the ‘travel ban’ as an affront to individual rights. Everyday experiences of clients range from not being able to re-unite with family, friends, or partners because of that persons’ HIV status to limiting equal access to health and behavioral health care services. The ban also resulted in persons with HIV/AIDS denying they were living with a chronic illness. And for untold thousands, the ban limited their ability to apply for citizenship and work visas.
The lifting of the ‘travel ban’ is a necessary next step in the ongoing efforts to address and stop the stigma and discrimination universally experienced by persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.