Authorities in China have lifted restrictions preventing travellers with a host of illnesses – including HIV - from entering the country ahead of Expo 2010.
Previous legislation stated those with “psychiatric illness, leprosy, AIDS, sexually-transmitted diseases, active pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases” were banned from travel.
These restrictions have now been partially lifted, with HIV and leprosy removed from the list by the state Council.
However, the communist-state has left leeway to decide which illnesses could still see travellers banned.
New restrictions state those “with serious psychiatric illness, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases that may constitute a major threat to public health” are still prevented from travel.
China was one of approximately 50 countries around the world with restrictions against carriers of the HIV virus.
However, ahead of Expo 2010 – which is due to begin on Saturday in Shanghai – authorities have relented, allowing accesses to carriers.
Approximately 100 million visitors are expected at the event, which begins on May 1st and runs until October.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) welcomed the decision as a “significant step in the right direction”.
WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan added: “This decision should inspire other nations to change laws and policies that continue to discriminate against people living with HIV.
“Many policies that discriminate against people living with HIV were enacted at a time when AIDS was surrounded by widespread fear and hopelessness.
“With HIV prevention and treatment now saving millions of lives, this is no longer the case. Policies that help curb discrimination can help prevent further transmission,” she said.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said in a statement: “Punitive policies and practices only hamper the global AIDS response.
“I urge all other countries with such restrictions to remove them as a matter of priority and urgency.”