Stigma Against Foreigners with HIV Remains In Korea?

Test of foreigners applying to become English teachers in South Korea may have ended, but a stigma may remain according to this article:

And while organizations like the Korean Federation for AIDS Prevention provides foreigners with HIV/AIDS resources and free, anonymous testing, HIV-positive foreigners are vulnerable to deportation out of the country, as potential “persons carrying an epidemic disease, narcotic addicts or other persons deemed likely to cause danger and harm to the public health” defined in Article 11 of the Immigration Control Act.

According to Michael Solis, a visiting researcher at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the government had deported more than 500 foreigners who were HIV-positive as of 2007. Kwon said that in 2010, following UNAIDS criticism of South Korean travel restrictions, the government stopped banning and deporting foreign teachers with HIV. But for those who test positive, it remains difficult to afford treatment or be hired as teachers and educators, she added.

Stigma around foreigners and HIV/AIDS remains.  [Korea Expose]

You can read the rest at the link.

Should Korea Get Rid of the Mandatory HIV Test for Foreign English Teachers?

The issue of foreign English teachers being forced to take a HIV test before gaining employment in Korea has come up again:

One of my favorite cartoons from the English Spectrum-gate timeframe.

To teach English in Korea, Christina had to prove she was not HIV-positive.

The US citizen was reluctant, but complied with the rule, undergoing a blood test for HIV and submitting the results to local authorities in order to get a job at a public school.

When she found out that Korean and Korean-American teachers at the school were exempted from the test despite doing the same job, she was offended.

“It perpetuates perceptions of foreigners as dirty, dangerous and impure. I think it is discriminatory and xenophobic,” said Christina, who first came to Korea in 2010 and now teaches in Gwangju.

“It also perpetuates stereotypes about HIV and the people who have it,” she told The Korea Herald.

For nearly a decade, South Korea has made it mandatory for foreigners wishing to work here to undergo blood tests for HIV, rejecting those found to be HIV-positive.

This policy, introduced in 2007 after complaints from locals over “dangerous law-breaking foreigners,” including English teachers, may come to an end soon, as the government is considering a recent recommendation by the country’s human rights panel to do away with it.

“The Justice Ministry is collecting opinions from relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Welfare to decide whether to accept the recommendation,” it said in response to an inquiry by The Korea Herald.

A recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea is not legally binding, but the government must decide whether to accept it within 90 days. In this case, the deadline is Dec. 7.  [Korea Herald]

You can read much more at the link, but over at Gusts of Popular Feeling there is a good run down on the history of the HIV testing law.

For those who are not long time readers of the ROK Drop the passing of the mandatory HIV testing law had nothing to do with concerns about HIV or drugs.  It began in 2005 when English Spectrum-gate occurred.  Some foreign English teachers made derogatory comments about Korean women on the English Spectrum website that a Korean netizen noticed.  It soon exploded within the Korean Internet community who rallied to take down the webpage.  However, the taking down of English Spectrum did not stop the Korean netizen fury against what they believed to be unqualified foreign English teachers running around the country taking drugs and molesting Korean women. An Anti-English Spectrum group was formed that actually wanted to provoke incidents with foreigners in certain university areas in order to push them out.

The controversy led the Korean government to order a crackdown against foreign English teachers.  The crackdown got so bad I felt compelled to offer my advice to English teachers on how to blend in as a US GI.  The anti-English Spectrum group was eventually able to lobby to get laws passed in 2007 to make it harder to get an E2 visa which is how the HIV testing came about.  Since then the Korean government has faced accusations of discrimination, but have refused to revoke the HIV testing law.  It looks like within the next few weeks we will know if South Korea will continue to enforce this discriminatory law.

Airman Tries to Have Conviction For Passing HIV to Partner Overturned

This appeal court case depending on how it goes may end up helping this Special Forces Colonel who is being charged for getting a female partner infected with HIV:

A Kansas airman accused of aggravated assault for exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita will have his appeal heard this week before the nation’s highest military court.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will on Tuesday take up the case against David Gutierrez, an appeal the defense contends could upend similar prosecutions in the U.S. military.

“This case will have the potential of decriminalizing sexual contact with someone with HIV,” defense attorney Kevin McDermott said.

Air Force prosecutors have declined comment.

Gutierrez was a sergeant at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita in 2011 when he was stripped of his rank and sentenced to eight years behind bars.

In addition to aggravated assault, Gutierrez also was found guilty of violating an order to notify partners about his HIV status and to use condoms. He was also convicted of indecent acts and adultery. He has not been accused of actually infecting anyone with HIV.

In his appeal, Gutierrez has challenged whether the risk to his sexual partners was high enough to constitute aggravated assault, arguing that laws covering exposure to the disease are outdated since the statistical probability of heterosexual transmission is low and medical advances have made the disease treatable.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I do not see how giving someone HIV should not be considered a crime of some kind regardless of how treatable it is now a days.  It is something that at least permanently negatively alters the life of anyone who catches it and can lead to deadly consequences.  Also of interest with this story is that Gutierrez is also claiming he is not guilty of adultery since his wife participated in the swinger parties.  It will be interesting to see how this case turns out and its ramifications on the UCMJ.

Army Special Forces Colonel Accused of Knowingly Giving Woman HIV

It will be interesting to see how this turns out:

After almost seven hours of testimony Monday, the Article 32 hearing for a senior Army National Guard officer charged with knowingly exposing a woman to HIV by having unprotected sex will continue into Tuesday.

Col. Jeffrey Pounding, a Special Forces officer who is currently assigned as the deputy director of the National Guard Bureau’s strategic plans and policy directorate (J-5), faces one charge each of assault, adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer.
The woman who is accusing Pounding of exposing her to HIV said their relationship began when they were both at Texas A&M University, where he was an Army fellow. ( Army Times)

You can read more at the link, but if it is proven this Colonel knowingly gave her HIV I would hope that would lead to jail time.