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September 17, 2008
Rate of HIV soars in Australia

A hospital in Sydney promotes AIDS awareness.

The rate of HIV infection in Australia has spiked by 50 percent in the last eight years, according to a new report. New diagnoses have increased 718 cases in 1999 to 1,051 in 2007 — or 5 percent in the last year.

Miners traveling to Asia and Papua New Guinea and immigrants have been the sources of transmission, according to an HIV support group. Australia now screens potential immigrants for HIV and many suffering from the disease are denied entry.

The United Nations provides an account of an HIV-positive researcher whose application to immigrate to Australia was denied.

The Australian newspaper asks its readers, “Should we ban HIV immigrants?” and receives responses from many readers. The newspaper also features an editorial by the president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine about Australia’s strategy to address HIV.

Yoni Goldstein of the National Post calls an AIDS-free immigration policy “irrational.”

Economist Harry Clarke defends such a policy on monetary grounds, arguing that HIV-positive immigrants would be a burden on the health system.

“Oddnari” wonders about a middle ground and if there could be a more balanced immigration policy.

In Australia, 85 people in every 100,000 had HIV in last year, but this is still significantly lower than that in the United States, where 327 in 100,000 were infected in 2007.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meredith James under a Creative Commons license.

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