January 4, 2010, marked a critical moment: the official end of the HIV/AIDS related entry, stay and residence restrictions (aka, 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. Experiences of clients range from not being able to re-unite with family, friends, or partners because of that person’s 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.