The Cabinet is considering allowing foreign workers with HIV to remain in Taiwan, signaling a possible end to the government’s long-standing policy of deporting foreigners who test positive for the virus.
The proposed amendment to the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act (人類免疫缺乏病毒傳染防治及感染者權益保障條例) has been sent to the Executive Yuan for review, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said yesterday.
If it clears the legislature, the amendment will overturn standing regulations that call for the immediate deportation of lawfully residing foreign workers who test positive for HIV.
HIV-positive foreign spouses of Taiwanese are also subject to deportation unless they can provide evidence that they were infected by their spouse.
Last year, 71 foreign workers were deported after testing positive for HIV, agency statistics showed.
While the new amendment would allow them to remain in the country, Chou said that it specifically prohibits the use of government funds for treatment of AIDS for foreign workers, while the government’s role in supporting treatment for foreign spouses is “still under discussion.”
The government’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 UN Program on HIV/AIDS listed Taiwan as one of 20 countries or regions that deports foreign residents as soon as they were found to be HIV positive.
The US 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.”