Government of Mauritius pledges to working towards removing HIV-related restrictions on stay and residence

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Government of Mauritius pledges to working towards removing HIV-related restrictions on stay and residence

18 April 2014

The government of Mauritius commits to removing the current stay and residence restrictions for people living with HIV. During a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in Port Louis on 18 April, Prime Minister of Mauritius Navin Ramgoolam pledged to setting up a special committee to review and make recommendations towards lifting the remaining travel restrictions in the country.

Mauritius is one of the 44 countries in the world that enforce HIV-related restrictions to entry, stay and residence for people living with HIV. Welcoming the government’s decision, Mr Sidibé stressed on the need to making sure that people have equal access to freedom of movement – regardless of their HIV status. He added HIV treatment has revolutionized the life of people living with HIV and allowed them to be productive, equal and global citizens.

Earlier in the day, Mr Sidibé met with President of Mauritius Kailash Purryag at State House in Le Réduit to discuss progress and challenges in the national AIDS response. President Purryag outlined his vision to eliminating extreme poverty which is critical to overcoming the AIDS epidemic.

In the last few years, Mauritius has made good progress in its AIDS response. In 2012, only 2 babies were born with HIV in the country and more than 95% of pregnant women living with HIV were accessing treatment. An estimated 11 000 people were living with HIV in Mauritius in 2012 – an increase from 7 300 in 2001. The HIV epidemic in Mauritius is concentrated among people who inject drugs. In 2011, it was estimated that 10 000 people were injecting drugs in Mauritius – 51.6% of people who inject drugs were living with HIV in 2012.

Mr Sidibé commended the government of Mauritius for its leadership and efforts in making an AIDS-free generation a reality. Mr Sidibé also applauded Mauritius for successfully implementing harm reduction programmes in prison settings for people who inject drugs.

According to government figures, HIV infection among people who inject drugs has started to decline from 73% in 2010 to 68% in 2011 due to innovative programmes which provide free syringes and needles as well as opioid substitution therapy.

During his visit, Mr Sidibé also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Health, and representatives from the Indian Ocean Commission and civil society to take stock of the AIDS response in Mauritius. The discussions focused particularly on provision of HIV prevention and treatment services to key population at risk of HIV, stigma reduction and equity in the AIDS response, as well as applying regional approach to the AIDS response in the Indian Ocean islands.

Quotes

"Solving poverty will provide the way to getting to zero. Education and health are critical for the fight against AIDS. Mauritius has succeeded in facing the challenge that Africa is now facing –cultivating people and turning them into currency."

President of Mauritius, Kailash Purryag

"The government will set up a special committee to examine and make recommendations to remove the remaining travel restrictions for people living with HIV in Mauritius."

Prime Minister of Mauritius, Navin Ramgoolam

"Preventing new HIV infections among people who inject drugs and eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV is the beginning of the end of AIDS in Mauritius."

UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé