Archive for Saturday, February 17, 1996


February 17, 1996


Just how committed is the American public to eradicating AIDS?

This week's announcement that boxer Tommy Morrison had tested HIV-positive focused even more attention on the deadly disease and should serve as an added warning of the dangers associated with a promiscuous lifestyle.

For years, the world's top scientists have been trying to find a vaccine to protect against AIDS, but so far there is no cure in sight. From time to time, stories tell about some new hopeful development, but it isn't long before a follow-up story reports the test has not measured up to expectations.

In fact, a story earlier this week reported a top scientist saying, "If we have in hand the product that will be ultimately effective, the timetable tells us it will not be ready until 2001 or 2002."

And this is a giant "if" because there is no way of knowing whether scientists do indeed "have in hand" a product that can eventually become an effective vaccine.

This being the case, what is going to be done between now and the years 2001 or 2002 to try to stop the spread of this fatal disease?

The answer offered by many is to practice "safe sex." Those suggesting this course of action apparently condone a promiscuous lifestyle. Sleep with as many individuals as you like, just practice "safe sex." What does this say about what is "right," what is proper and the moral character of those who continue to jump from bed to bed?

Abstinence, being a virgin until marriage, is looked upon by some as "old-fashioned" and out of date. Never mind that such a commitment could make a significant impact on the numbers of people who will become infected. How long will it be before the public realizes just how deadly AIDS is and that, at this time, there is no cure?

As this writer has asked in previous columns: Why not adopt a policy of identifying everyone who has tested positive for the virus? Why is it that even though the disease is deadly, so many people are opposed to identifying people with AIDS?

There are those who claim such an identification policy would be an invasion of privacy. Others say those identified would be subject to public scorn and that it would be a public embarrassment.

What's worse? Pointing a public finger at those who carry the deadly disease and embarrassing those people or doing nothing to help reduce the spread of the disease?

Better yet, how about a national policy of testing all citizens and identifying all those who test positive?

If there is to be a serious, truly meaningful effort to stop the spread of AIDS, half-measures are not going to get the job done. It is going to take an all-out effort, even if it means embarrassing many thousands of people. Hopefully, scientists will come up with an effective vaccine or cure, but until that time, the disease is going to infect added thousands of Americans.

Shouldn't this be sufficient reason to launch an all-out war against AIDS and not be so sensitive and concerned about identifying those who are carriers of this terrible disease?

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