Australia should bar immigrants with HIV, Prime Minister John Howard said, and his government was examining ways to make its tough restrictions even stronger.
HIV-AIDS workers accused Howard of xenophobia and promoting the racist belief that immigrants - particularly Africans - were responsible for bringing the disease to Australia. Advocates also said they were puzzled by the idea of tightening laws when the vast majority of HIV-positive prospective migrants and refugees already were rejected under the current rules.
Howard was asked in a radio interview Friday in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria State, if he thought people with HIV should be allowed into Australia as migrants or refugees.
Howard replied that while he wanted more advice on the issue, "my initial reaction is, no."