Fiji latest country to remove entry barriers for people living with HIV

GENEVA, 7 September 2011—The British business pioneer Sir Richard Branson has thrown his support behind a global drive to rid the world finally of the remaining discriminatory laws that keep people from visiting, or living and working in countries solely because they are HIV positive. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called for the global freedom of movement for people living with HIV.

Sir Richard Branson said, “I applaud UNAIDS’ tireless efforts to encourage countries to remove travel restrictions on people living with HIV. Everyone should have the chance to travel freely, and I welcome the opportunity to work together on such an important issue.”

Last month, Fiji became the latest country to lift its restrictions on entry, stay or residence based on HIV status.

“I am very proud to say as the Head of State, that the Fiji Government has taken strides into changing laws that are discriminatory including decriminalizing men who have sex with men and amending legislation on travel related restrictions involving people living with HIV and promoting consultations around creating an enabling environment for sex workers,” the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau stated in his opening address at the International AIDS Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific on Friday 26 August.

Sir Richard Branson said, “Fiji’s leadership sends a strong message, and my hope is that other governments will follow their example.”

With the removal of Fiji’s HIV travel restrictions, UNAIDS counts 47 countries, territories and areas that continue to impose some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status. At least 128 countries have no such restrictions.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, “With the support of tireless advocates such as Sir Richard Branson—we will bring about a new era of equal mobility for people living with HIV.”

Sir Richard Branson is Founder of the Virgin Group of companies. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and has expanded into many diverse sectors from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide. In 2005, Branson started Virgin Unite, the Group’s non-profit entrepreneurial foundation, which works with partners to create new  approaches to social and environmental issues. Virgin Unite has also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives, including the Elders, the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.

UNAIDS

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative United Nations partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Learn more at unaids.org.

Virgin Unite

Virgin Unite is the non-profit entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group.  Founded in 2005, Virgin Unite unites people to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way, with the aim to help revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good.  This is based on the belief that this is the only way to tackle the scale and urgency of the challenges facing the world today. For more information please visit www.virginunite.com.

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