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LONDON, Jul 26, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- As many as 16,600 Britons could be spreading the AIDS virus without knowing it, the Sun reported Monday.
Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson also said cases of human immunodeficiency virus are increasing at a rate of 20 percent per year.
He said some 50,000 British residents have HIV/AIDS but as many as a third of those, or 16,600, do not know they are infected.
Half of all homosexual men with HIV who attend sexual disease clinics are believed to leave undiagnosed, Donaldson said. So do more than a third of heterosexual African immigrants with the virus.
Public health experts said three-quarters of new cases of HIV among heterosexuals are due to immigration from Africa.
Despite that, health officials have rejected compulsory HIV tests for migrants for fear of being labeled racist.
They are also worried such a move could boost illegal immigration and discourage HIV sufferers from seeking treatment.
"America, Canada and 43 other countries test immigrants before departure. The British public deserve the same protection," said Andrew Green, head of Migrationwatch U.K.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.