Criticism over Taiwan court ruling for removal of HIV refuge

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A Taiwanese nurse at an AIDS counseling station in Taipei, demonstrates how drug addicts can recycle their used needles in exchange for new ones.

TAIPEI (AFP) - A Taiwan district court's controversial ruling demanding the removal of a home for
HIV carriers has sparked anger, campaigners have said.

The verdict handed down Wednesday said the home must be moved out of the community in Taipei city in accordance with rules that bar residents from accommodating people with infectious diseases, local televisions said Thursday.

"The ruling is not proper. I'm afraid the judge has harboured biased concept towards HIV carriers," Lin Shu-ya, of the non-profit Taiwan Association for Human Rights, told AFP.

"They are unlikely to spread the disease as many people fear," she said.

One of the HIV carriers, who identified himself as Hsiao Hung in an interview with a local television, lamented: "We're just like a ball kicked from one community to another."

The refuge is home to about 20 HIV sufferers, including seven children.

Taiwan's health authorities said they "felt regrettable" over the ruling.

"The country's citizens are entitled to residing and moving freely in accordance with the constitution," the Centre for Disease Control (
CDC) said in a statement.

Taiwan's law concerning the treatment of
AIDS also stipulates that HIV carriers must not be denied fair access to schooling, medicare and jobs, the CDC said.

The CDC promised to provide assistance to the group while Yang Chieh, head of the home, said she would appeal.

As of July, there were 12,012 HIV carriers in Taiwan, 4,423 of them drug addicts, according to statistics compiled by the Centre for Disease Control.