An Italian AIDS expert criticized health centers Monday for breaching legal provisions which stipulate that free AIDS tests including those for non-residents must be anonymous.
"Tests have been refused to many immigrants who are asked to provide identity papers when they must be anonymous and free under the law," said immunologist Fernando Aiuti of the Italian ANLAIDS movement which is involved in the prevention of the immune-deficiency disease.
Refusals to test immigrants were reported from a number of Italian regions including northern Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto and southern Sicily.
"People, and notably from Africa, could be treated but are not," Aiuti told the newspaper La Stampa.
State health clinics also request identity papers for longer hospital treatments which excludes illegal immigrants, he added.
"Many sick people do not have the proper documents and remain in the streets or can only be taken care of by some charity when Italian law gives clandestine immigrants access to health services," he added.
Aiuti said that up to 18 percent of Africans aged between 20 and 40 were believed to be infected with the virus that causes AIDS depending on their country of origin.
Such a large number of people living in hiding and left without assistance represent a threat for public health, he warned -- ROME (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)