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International News

Britain Urged to Test Immigrants for HIV

August 19, 2003

Advocates of stricter national border controls for Britain said on Monday that the nation should test potential immigrants for HIV in order to stem a rise in the number of cases being imported from Africa. Migration Watch UK, an independent think tank known for its tough stance on immigration, said it supported border testing. Immigrant support groups rejected the call, and the opposition Liberal Democrats, the third force in British politics, said testing would be unethical and unworkable.

An editorial in the Times, owned by Australian-born media magnate Rupert Murdoch, recently supported such testing. "It is not racist to propose such health testing," said the editorial. "On the contrary, it is the import of HIV and AIDS into this country through immigration that plays straight into the hands of racists."

Some immigration experts say the government should follow Australia's lead and test immigrants. Those testing HIV-positive should be barred from entering the country, they say. Liberal Democrats condemned the testing proposal as "unnecessary, extremist, unethical and unworkable."

The government is reviewing its policy on health checks for immigrants while the opposition Conservative Party has said it would introduce such tests if elected.

Figures from the government's Health Protection Agency show that 90 percent of all people in Britain diagnosed with HIV who contracted it abroad contracted it in Africa. Some 2,338 people diagnosed in Britain last year contracted HIV heterosexually in Africa, HPA said. The vast majority is thought to be African immigrants. "This disparity is due to two factors: the very high prevalence in many African countries and the historic links between the UK and Africa," HPA said.

Back to other news for August 19, 2003

Adapted from:
08.18.03; Gideon Long

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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