Mainstream newspaper The Straits Times has recently discovered that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has lifted a ban on foreigners infected with HIV since 1st April this year. HIV or human immunodeficiency virus causes Aids, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Since the 1980s, HIV positive foreigners were not allowed to enter Singapore, but the MOH's latest move would see HIV positive foreigners being granted short-term visit passes. There is still a ban on long-term visits, such as those seeking employment in Singapore or who want to accompany a child studying here, the MOH said.
"The policy on the repatriation and permanent blacklisting of HIV-positive foreigners was recommended in the late 1980s when the disease was new, fatal and no effective treatment was available," says MOH in its response to queries.
According to MOH, the ban was lifted "given the current context with more than 5,000 Singapore residents living with HIV and the availability of effective treatment for the disease".
It confirmed that foreigners here - excluding permanent residents or spouses of Singaporeans - found to be HIV- positive will be deported and put on a permanent blacklist.
MOH's spokesperson added that "lifting the short-term travel restrictions... poses very low additional risk of HIV transmission to the local population.
"However, the public health risk posed by long-stayers is not insignificant, hence the restriction on long-term visits has been retained."
The rule is similar to immigration laws found in countries such as Australia and New Zealand.