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Getting Tested in Iraq

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep and producer Jim Wallace arrived in Baghdad over the weekend. They've been reporting on security issues in Iraq and Steve has also been co-hosting Morning Edition from NPR's Baghdad bureau.

On the way into the country, Steve reports that he and Jim had to submit to a requirement that's been around for a while, but which, in the past, foreigners have been able to bypass with a little bribe. Foreign visitors now must submit to an AIDS test within 10 days of their arrival, or else they will be forbidden to leave the country. Steve writes:

"Let's pause to admire the logic behind this law. First, Iraqis are not being tested, only foreigners. Second, you need not take a test to enter the country, only to leave. Obviously, Iraq is not trying to protect itself from AIDS: Iraq is trying to save the world from AIDS by confining all cases within Iraq! News organizations have lodged furious protests, calling the testing racist, invasive, useless, and worse; but the bottom line is that nobody wants to stay in this country a day longer than necessary. So we gave in. Our correspondent Peter Kenyon was heard to mutter, 'Freedom is on the march.'"