WHEN THE RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT approved new legislation on AIDS last autumn that required all foreign visitors to prove that they were not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes the disease, there was such an outcry that President Boris Yeltsin vetoed the draft. Now Yeltsin has signed a new version stipulating that only visitors coming to Russia for more than three months prove that they are HIV-negative. This compromise measure is aimed at preventing a massive loss of tourism revenue while appeasing hardliners who blame foreigners for the spread of AIDS in Russia. Although more practical and less controversial than its predecessor, the law has been sharply criticized for infringing on human rights and diverting attention from the need to develop effective public-information and -education strategies. Beyond that, the new law has dubious medical value and will be difficult and costly to implement.

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