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09 August 2005
The New Zealand Department of Labour recently announced it will begin requiring a blood test that screens for HIV, hepatitis B, and liver and kidney function for all foreign visitors who plan on staying in the country for more than one year.
Previously, the test was required only for immigrants who stayed in the country for two years or more. The New Zealand government in January 2004 announced that it will ban people from immigrating to the country if they test positive for diseases or conditions that could be contagious or costly to treat, such as HIV or tuberculosis.
Foreign students wishing to stay in New Zealand for more than six months also are required to undergo testing. Labour Department Workforce Deputy Secretary Mary Anne Thompson said the tightening of testing requirements for immigrants puts the country more in line with international standards.
New Zealand AIDS Foundation Communications Coordinator Steve Attwood said he is not opposed to the new testing regulations but added that HIV-positive immigration applicants should not be automatically rejected for entry into the country. Attwood said HIV-positive people who have been diagnosed early and are on proper medication may not be a drain on the country's free health care system and the labor department should weigh the costs and benefits of accepting each individual.