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Costa Rica Cites AIDS Fear, Bars Navy Ship Visit

September 10, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Navy was forced last week to cancel a port visit by one of its warships to Costa Rica because the country demanded certification that all the sailors were free of AIDS, Pentagon sources said today.

The sources, who demanded anonymity, said the incident involved the Navy destroyer Luce.

"There is a fear and paranoia growing about this disease that could threaten our relationships with friendly countries around the world," one official said.

"This could be much worse than the anti-nuclear problem. The issue is going to have to be resolved at the highest levels of government and very quickly at that. If we don't nip this in the bud, this could prove a very dangerous precedent," said the official.

Not the First Time

The sources, in revealing the cancellation of the Luce's scheduled port call to Limon last week, also disclosed that Costa Rica was not the first country to challenge the visit of a Navy ship because of a fear of AIDS.

They said the Philippines as well as other, unidentified, nations had moved in that direction at different points.

"In the other instances, however, we easily resolved the matter and the visits were made," said one official. "This time, we couldn't resolve it."

Wanted All Certified

According to the sources, the Costa Rican government demanded the Navy provide a roster of every individual on the Luce and "certification" that every sailor was free of the deadly disease.

The Navy tried to explain its testing procedures for AIDS to the Costa Ricans, but to no avail, one official said.

The challenge by Costa Rica comes at a time when the Pentagon is conducting the most extensive AIDS screening program in the world.

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