Australian PM calls for end to HIV-positive immigration

Keith Alcorn
Published: 16 April 2007

Australia should not admit HIV-positive immigrants, the country’s Prime Minister John Howard suggested on Friday.

"I think we should have the most stringent possible conditions in relation to that nationwide, and I know the health minister is concerned about that and is examining ways of tightening things up," Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard was responding to newly published statistics showing an increase in the number of HIV-positive people moving to the Australian state of Victoria, and the claim by one state health official that 70 HIV-positive immigrants had moved to the state in the past two years.

Victorian AIDS Council spokesman Michael Kennedy said that of 334 new HIV cases reported in Victoria last year, 50 were diagnosed in other Australian states and 20 were diagnosed overseas.

"But of those 20, eleven of them were born in Australia or New Zealand and have an automatic right of entry, so the biggest number (of migrants) we're talking about here is nine," Kennedy said.

Australia currently tests all immigrants applying for permanent residence, but a positive result is not grounds for refusal of entry. Most individuals with HIV are rejected because they may pose a burden to the public health services, but individuals with guaranteed employment in Australia would not be affected.

Short-term visitors to Australia are not affected by the regulations, unlike entry restrictions covering the United States, which impose a blanket ban on visits to the United States by HIV-positive people unless they obtain a special visa waiver.

Canada tests immigrants for HIV, but an HIV-positive test result is not in itself grounds for refusal of entry. In fact, it may speed an immigrant’s entry into medical care and prevent the phenomenon of late HIV diagnosis that is common among African migrants in the UK, Dr Sharon Walmesly, Associatiate Professor of Medicine at Toronto University said at a recent meeting for HIV clinicians in London.

Australia is due to host the Fourth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Treatment and Pathogenesis in July.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

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