A report in China Daily, picked up by AFP, cites "insiders" saying that the State Council (read: Cabinet) decided this week to change the laws barring foreign HIV carriers entry into China. China is one of 60 countries that denies entry to people due to their HIV status.
Vice-Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, supports the proposals, saying: "I hope China will remove the ban thoroughly and forever by the time of the Shanghai Expo."
Under current Chinese regulations, those suffering from HIV as well as other infectious diseases or mental disorders are not allowed into the Middle Kingdom.
Since no official announcement has been released, no timetable was disclosed, although the China Daily reports that Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's disease prevention and control bureau says “changes are likely to be announced before the official opening of Shanghai Expo on May 1.”
"The ban imposed in the 1980s due to a lack of knowledge is obsolete and discriminatory," said He Xiong, deputy director of the Beijing center for disease prevention and control to China Daily.
"As HIV/AIDS cases have been seen in all provinces in China, a travel ban on foreigners will not help local public health," he noted.
A waiver for HIV-positive individuals to enter China for major international events is not unprecedented.
HIV in Shanghai
According to Shanghai Daily, “Shanghai reported 886 new HIV carriers and 392 AIDS patients, with 25 fatalities, from January to November 20 .” This is a 26.5 percent increase in positive HIV tests than for the same period last year. And unprotected sex was the cause of 63.7 percent of the new cases.
The city’s health bureau reported that “Shanghai’s incidence of HIV/AIDS is two in every 10,000 residents, much lower than the national level of five in every 10,000.”
"There is still a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Shanghai, but chances to become infected are widely available here," said Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Health Bureau.