SEOUL ø North Korea has expelled 27 foreigners it said tested positive for HIV and claimed the country remains free of AIDS.
North Korea is "the only country on the earth that has no AIDS-related patients," South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported quoting North Korea's Pyongyang Time. Yonhap reported the magazine in Pyongyang carried an interview with Han Kyong-Ho, director of Pyongyang's Central Hygienic and Anti-Epizootic Center in its Dec. 4 issue.
In the interview, Han said that more than 400,000 people have been tested for AIDS since 1989, and that none other than the 27 foreigners was found to have the disease.
"Those 27 foreigners were sent home at their request," Han said. He did not elaborate on the period of time in which the disease was allegedly discovered and when the foreigners were expelled or to which nations they went.
Han attributed the non-existence of AIDS patients in North Korea to the "sound and moral lifestyle" of North Korean people.
Many North Korean statements are impossible to confirm independently and objectively, to health officials in South Korea say.
"WHO [World Health Organization] reports every year that there is no AIDS patient reported from North Korea, but the international health organization has no way to confirm the report," said Koh Eun-A, an official at the AIDS & Tuberculosis Section of the National Institute of Health in Seoul.