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Airline Bans HIV+

By on August 18, 2014

If you are HIV infected and want to travel to China, consider carefully the airline you choose.

Two HIV-positive passengers and a friend are suing a Chinese airline for refusing to let them on board, in the country’s first such lawsuit, per media reports on Friday, August 15th.

The pair planned to travel from Shenyang in the northeast to Shijiazhuang, south of Beijing, but were barred from the Spring Airlines plane after they informed staff of their status, the Global Times said.

The two, along with an HIV-negative traveling companion, were told that their tickets had been cancelled. All three sued the budget airline, accusing it of discrimination and demanding an apology as well as compensation of 48,999 yuan ($8,000 USD), the paper said.

A Shenyang court accepted the case, making it the first lawsuit against an airline for discriminating against an HIV-positive person in China, it added. “The court’s acceptance of this case signalled that HIV carriers can protect their rights through legal channels,” it quoted plaintiff Cheng Shuaishuai as saying.

China has a long history of discrimination against those with HIV. It bans them from becoming civil servants, and they face the possibility of losing their jobs if their employers discover their status, while some have sought hospital treatment only to be turned away. China only lifted a long-standing ban on HIV-positive foreigners entering the country in 2010.

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In recent years top officials have begun speaking more openly about HIV prevention and control, but discrimination remains an issue, with campaign groups and international organizations saying widespread stigmatization has complicated efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Under Chinese law, air carriers can deny transport to infectious patients, people with mental illness or passengers whose health condition may endanger others or themselves.