Twenty-five years since the first cases of AIDS were reported, travelling overseas or moving to Australia with HIV remains complex.

Next month’s Chicago Gay Games will welcome HIV-positive people because of a special event waiver, but the same visitors would ordinarily be blocked from entering the US.

And in Australia, a recent federal court ruling suggests not all immigration applicants with HIV will automatically fail health requirements, as has usually been the case.

Legal experts and community educators will try to explain these complexities at an ACON public forum next Tuesday.

David Puls, solicitor at the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre, will discuss recent changes in Australian immigration law affecting HIV-positive people.

UTS law professor Jennifer Burn will analyse HIV screening procedures and why HIV is singled out over other chronic conditions.

And ACON treatments adviser Stephen Gallagher will discuss the requests ACON receives about HIV-positive travel and immigration, before a question-and-answer session.

ACON is holding the forum as a response to community anxiety about the issues.

There’s quite a lot of anxiety among people with HIV about travelling internationally, about treatments and whether you can legally enter countries when you’re HIV-positive, and can you treat at the same time, acting ACON chief executive Scott Berry told Sydney Star Observer.

The conference aims to answer as many of these questions as possible and help people determine where the best sources of advice and information in Sydney are.

David Puls said a culture of fear still surrounded HIV, but HIV-positive people hoping to move to Australia had reason to be optimistic.

There’s been, we suspect, a bit of a change in the way the Immigration Department’s dealing with health waiver matters, or HIV-related partners, Puls said.

They used to refuse all of those visas and people were required to go to the Migration Review Tribunal and seek a decision from the tribunal to say the department got it wrong.

That seems to be changing, to the department’s credit.

The HIV travel and immigration forum is on Tuesday 4 July from 7pm at ACON, 9 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills. RSVP on 9206 2000.

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