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Health Experts See Little Value in AIDS Tests for Travelers

March 05, 1987|From Reuters

GENEVA — Testing international travelers for AIDS is likely to be of little help in curbing the disease, and safe sex habits remain the best defense, World Health Organization experts said Wednesday.

A two-day meeting of 14 medical and public health specialists from 12 countries agreed that screening travelers would involve great cost and bring only marginal benefits.

"Serious logistic, epidemiological, economic, legal, political and ethical problems are inherent in any proposal for HIV (AIDS virus) screening of international travelers," Dr. Jonathan Mann, head of the AIDS control program for WHO, told a news conference.

He said screening would have to be applied to a country's nationals returning from abroad as well as to foreigners, and no screening could prevent introduction and spread of infection.

The experts recommended educating travelers on how to avoid acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Mann said preventive measures against AIDS are the same worldwide--careful choice of sexual partners and use of condoms.

They also concluded that there is no risk of AIDS sufferers infecting others in trains, buses, planes, ships or cars, and no reason to ban them from public transportion.

The meeting was called after moves by some countries to test foreign travelers for AIDS.

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