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(RE) Austrian far-right wants AIDS tests at all borders

November 29, 1995
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.