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High Cost Of HIV Refugees Predictable

Media Release

17 March 2008

High Cost Of HIV Refugees Predictable

The news that New Zealanders will be paying out around $1 million per year to treat HIV- positive Zimbabwean refugees is both predictable and frustrating, says New Zealand First associate immigration spokesperson Peter Brown.

“New Zealand First has been warning for many years that the consequences of a lax attitude to immigration health screening would have a serious outcome for the country, not just in dollars but in health risks to the rest of the community.

“It is not as if our cash-strapped health system has money to spare, and the costs will only rise as the scourge of this terrible disease takes its toll. It would also be foolish to think that the spread of HIV/Aids will be confined to these 50 people.

“After all, the people we know about are only those enticed forward this time by the promise of residency and treatment. This million dollars is the start of a very long expensive lesson in how not to run a refugee settlement programme.

“The belated attempts to identify HIV-positive refugees highlights just how careless immigration procedures have been and now it is New Zealanders who have to pick up the tab in economic costs and health risks for decades to come,” said Mr Brown.


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