Some International AIDS Conference Registrants Denied Visas by Spanish Government
The organizers of the XIV International AIDS Conference to be held next month in Barcelona, Spain, said yesterday that the Spanish government has discriminated against "dozens" of conference registrants by denying them visas to enter the country, the Associated Press reports. Joan Tallada, a conference coordinator, said that there have been reports of Spanish consular employees in India demanding bribes for visas and people in African countries being treated with "prejudice and hostility" after traveling long distances to try to obtain visas in their nations' capitals. A Spanish Foreign Ministry official said that people with HIV/AIDS were not specifically being denied visas but added that conference participants' visa applications could have been rejected for not meeting other requirements. "When Barcelona was chosen, we were guaranteed that participants would not have any problem" obtaining visas, Shaun Mellors, a conference coordinator, said, adding that if the problem was not resolved, the organizers would "have to refrain from holding this type of conference in countries with such restrictive entrance policies" (Socolovsky, Associated Press, 6/25). The conference has been forwarding lists of registered participants to the Spanish Ministry of Health, which has in turn been contacting Spanish embassies around the world to arrange visas. In order to be included on the lists, participants must have received a scholarship from the conference; be registered as media; be registered as a conference delegate, student or accompanying person; be an exhibitor; or be an invited speaker. Those conference participants with a valid passport who have been denied a visa should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: full name; address; telephone number; email address; passport number, country, date of issue and date of expiration; and a brief description of why the embassy denied the visa application (XIV International AIDS Conference release, 6/20).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.