A ban blocking HIV/AIDS carriers from entering China is likely to be repealed next year, state media reported yesterday.
"HIV/AIDS restrictions will be lifted in 2009," the China Daily said, citing Hao Yang, deputy director of the health ministry's disease control and prevention bureau.
The health ministry and other government agencies have reached consensus on the issue, Hao said on the sidelines of an AIDS conference in Mexico City.
China introduced the ban in the late 1980s after it reported its first AIDS case in 1985, hoping to limit the spread of the virus by keeping it outside the country, according to the report.
The health ministry estimated that 700,000 people were HIV positive in China at the end of 2007, although campaigners have warned the figure could be up to 10 times higher.
Travelling restrictions against HIV carriers, which are maintained by some 67 countries, have long been criticised as contributing to the discrimination and stigmatisation of sufferers.
China requires short-term entrants to declare their HIV status at the border, while long-term stays require compulsory tests, according to the Global Database of HIV-related travel restrictions.
Zhu Jing, a spokeswoman for the Beijing Olympics organisers, said last month that athletes and delegates would not have to give their HIV/AIDS status.