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12.21.2004

Bridge in Brooklyn for sale 

Apparently North Korea is the only country on earth that is free from HIV and AIDS:


SEOUL, Dec 20 Asia Pulse - North Korea has expelled 27 foreigners who tested positive for HIV, the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to a North Korean English weekly obtained by Yonhap News Agency.

The Pyongyang Times also said in its Dec. 4 edition that there are no North Korean AIDS/HIV carriers, saying "The DPRK is the sole country on the earth that has no AIDS-related patients so far." DPRK is the acronym for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

"If any, there were 27 foreigners who turned out to be positive in the test and they were sent home at their request," Han Kyong-ho, director of the Central Hygienic and Anti-Epizootic Center, an arm of the Ministry of Public Health, said in an interview with the Times.

Calling AIDS "the 'plague' of the 20th century" that was first discovered in the United States, the official said the country's security from the global disease has been assured by the World Health Organization. The world health watchdog sent an expert to North Korea to conduct AIDS tests on 200 local agricultural workers who had been to Africa and found no one affected with the HIV virus, Han said.

He also said the country has tested more than 400,000 people for AIDS since 1989, and none tested positive except the 27 foreigners.

The official said the country has launched several government organizations to scrutinize people for possible infection, such as the National AIDS Committee and the AIDS Prevention Office, both established in 1988, and the AIDS Test Room, which was created for each province to perform tests on both locals and foreigners who have crossed the border.

The government strictly bans the import of blood and blood products, and all local blood products should first pass examination by blood banks before distribution, Han said.


I know the borders of North Korea are hermetically sealed, but I'm sure that by now North Korea has "repatriated" somebody from China or some other place who managed to contract HIV. And I'm willing to bet that if North Korea really is HIV-free, that this is accomplished by, uh, more efficient methods than deportation.

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