JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The South African government announced Thursday that legislation will be enacted to provide for the "isolation and compulsory treatment" of all victims and carriers of the AIDS virus here.
If the legislation is carried out, South Africa will apparently be the first country to segregate and forcibly treat its own citizens who are found to carry the fatal disease.
Dr. Willie van Niekerk, the minister of health, told Parliament in Cape Town that the government also was preparing to deport all migrant workers, mostly miners from Malawi, with the AIDS virus.
"The danger presented to people by AIDS is shocking," Van Niekerk said. "It is creating a lot of concern in central Africa, and the admission of workers from these high-risk areas to South Africa . . . deserves special attention."
He said that preventing the spread of AIDS--acquired immune deficiency syndrome--has become a top government priority, and he said the lack of a cure justifies the government's strong measures.
The government has already consulted the mining industry and South Africa's neighbors about the planned repatriation of foreign workers carrying the AIDS virus, Van Niekerk told Parliament. He said that in the future, migrant laborers from central Africa will be tested before they are issued visas.
But he offered no details about the government's plans, under changes in the country's health laws, to round up, isolate and hold for "compulsory treatment" South Africans found carrying the virus or suffering from AIDS.
According to government figures, the AIDS virus has been found in more than 1,000 foreign workers and in 1,140 South Africans, virtually all of them white.
The 55 AIDS cases confirmed in South Africa through July included 48 homosexual or bisexual men, five who received contaminated blood and two heterosexual men exposed to the virus in central Africa, the AIDS Advisory Group said.