Immigrants and federal prisoners will be tested for the AIDS virus, Attorney General Edwin Meese III said Monday. He was elaborating on a plan announced May 31 by President Reagan. In a speech the President mentioned measures he intended to take to stem the spread of the disease. An element announced by Mr. Meese but not previously mentioned by Mr. Reagan was a suggestion that AIDS tests of prisoners be a factor in terms of their parole.
``It is imperative that the federal government do everything it can to combat this rapidly growing public health problem,'' Meese told a news conference.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service will attempt to see that all immigrants are tested for exposure to the AIDS virus in their home countries, he said. If in some cases this is not possible, the refugees will be tested on arrival in the United States, and those who test positive will be denied entry.
Meese also announced that all federal prisoners will be tested for the AIDS virus when they enter prison and when they leave. Those who test positive will be referred for medical care and counseling, he said.
Probation officers will be informed of the parole of prisoners who test positive and may stop them from taking employment where there would be a danger they would spread the virus.
``We must do everything in our power to ensure that those who do not have AIDS are protected from unwanted and unknowing exposure to the disease. The public health and safety demand no less,'' he said.
Meese also supported the wearing of gloves by police when making drug-related arrests, saying officers ran the risk of being pricked by infected needles. Intravenous drug users are listed as one of the high-risk groups for contracting AIDS.
The Department of Health and Human Services Monday added AIDS to the list of diseases for which entry to the US may be barred.
Reagan has urged states to offer routine AIDS testing for marriage-license applicants and prisoners.
Mandatory testing has been criticized by civil libertarians and some public health officials on grounds that results could not be kept confidential. Reagan was booed when he called for tests in a speech to American Foundation for AIDS research.