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Gov't may end deportation of HIV-positive foreigners

TAIPEI -- A Cabinet-backed draft bill could allow foreign workers with HIV to remain in Taiwan, signaling a possible end to the government's long-standing policy of deporting HIV-positive foreigners.

The proposed amendment to the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act has been sent to the Executive Yuan for review, CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw said Tuesday.

If it clears the Legislature, the amendment will overturn the standing regulations that call for the immediate deportation of lawfully residing foreign workers who test positive for HIV.

HIV-positive foreign spouses of Taiwanese citizens are also currently subject to deportation unless they can provide evidence that they were infected by their spouse.

Last year, 71 foreign workers were removed from Taiwan after testing positive for HIV, CDC statistics showed.

While the new amendment would allow them to remain in the country, Chou noted that it specifically prohibits the use of government funds for AIDS treatment for HIV-positive foreign workers, while the government's role in supporting treatment for foreign spouses is “still under discussion.”

Taiwan's policy of deporting and denying residency for foreigners with HIV and AIDS has been widely criticized by international organizations.

In a 2012 report, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS listed Taiwan as one of 20 countries or regions that deports foreign residents as soon as they have been found HIV-positive.

The U.S. Department of State's annual global human rights report has also repeatedly expressed concern for “reported discrimination, including employment discrimination, against people with HIV/AIDS.”

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