VIENNA (Reuter) - Austria's far-right Freedom Party called
Wednesday for blanket AIDS tests at all national borders for
immigrants, long-term guest workers and asylum seekers, saying
the import of the disease had to be stopped.
Two days ahead of World AIDS Day, Freedom Party health
spokesman Alois Pumberger also said all prison inmates and
hospital patients should be forced to have an AIDS test.
"(The test) gives the affected person the opportunity to
deal with his illness as soon as possible and learn to cope with
the new situation," he said.
Pumberger's comments were immediately met with strong
criticism from political opponents and health workers.
Vienna's Social Democrat deputy mayor called the statements
"absurd" and highly dangerous, while the head of Vienna's AIDS
Information Center said they were "stupid, ignorant babble."
"It's nothing but a bid to make political gains in campaign
times by using a gloomy, non-scientific mix of fear of AIDS and
fear of foreigners," Deputy Mayor Sepp Rieder said.
Over 700,000 foreigners live in Austria, making up some nine
percent of the eight-million strong population.
Wolfgang Swoboda, who heads the AIDS Information Center,
also accused the Freedom Party of trying to make political
mileage out of a human tragedy and rejected claims that
immigrants lay behind the rising number of AIDS cases.
"It is true that AIDS is mostly imported into Austria but
the carriers are primarily Austrian sex-tourists, not immigrants
and guest workers," he said.