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TARAWA, Kiribati (March 29, 1999 - PACNEWS/Radio Kiribati)---Kiribati's National Council of Churches has called for compulsory AIDS tests for sailors and frequent travelers.

Council Secretary Kianteata Teabo believes the present voluntary medical check-up system is insufficient and too many I-Kiribati still are not aware of the consequences of the deadly disease.

Teabo said he was concerned because Kiribati, with its 80,000 population, could be devastated if just a few people infected with the HIV virus go undetected.

The island nation recently recorded its first death from AIDS. The victim, a sailor, reportedly contracted the disease while abroad.

Kiribati health officials say more than 20 people have been confirmed as HIV carriers in the Micronesian country.

The Council of Churches, comprised of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the Church of God, strongly believes that community rights should take precedence over individual rights on health issues, Radio Kiribati reports.

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