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Australian PM Wants to Prevent Entry of HIV Positive and Leprosy Affected People

As opinion polls predict a major defeat for the ruling conservatives in Australian federal elections, Prime Minister John Howard is stepping up his rhetoric, projecting himself as a tough man , who would do anything to protect the interests of his electorate. Only last month he had kicked off a huge controversy with similar comments following reports that the number of newcomers carrying HIV into the state of Victoria had more than quadrupled in the past two years.

Even then critics had pointed out the figure had little to do with immigration, but more with the inter-state movement of Australians themselves. For Australia as a whole too, HIV infection has been rising alarmingly, by as much as 41 per cent between 2000 and 2005. Besides the disease is raging in neighbouring Pacific countries like Papua New Guinea.

Hence he seems to want to clutch at the HIV straw and swim home again, ignoring the advice of his health and immigration ministers who have told him migrants carrying the disease are not a risk. If last time he had referred to the prohibition in force of the entry of TB patients, now he is saying that leprosy sufferers should also be prevented from entering Australia.

"My view is the best result is that no one with those sort of ailments is allowed into the country," Mr Howard said on radio. "I'm going to review the current position, and I want procedures put in place that see as far as possible that (HIV-positive people being allowed into Australia) doesn't happen. We are looking at it the next week or so." Earlier in the week, a letter from Health Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews advised the Prime Minister that people with HIV/AIDS should not be stopped from moving to Australia.

The letter reportedly told the Prime Minister that HIV, unlike the airborne disease tuberculosis, is not highly contagious, and that blocking entry to HIV-positive people could be seen as discri
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