Misinformation About AIDS


To the Editors of The Crimson:

I was pleased to see The Crimson report on the forum on AIDS at the School of Public Health (10/3/85). In light of the widespread unfounded panic about AIDS and misinformation about the disease, it is crucial that accurate information receive media attention.

However, I would like to clarify two points made in the article that are blatantly erroneous and misleading. The first is the lead sentence, which claims that AIDS can be stopped "only when people exercise more caution in their social behavior," (according to one speaker at the forum). This is simply wrong. AIDS is known to be transmitted only through intimate sexual contact, blood transfusions, and the sharing of hypodermic needles. AIDS is not transmitted casually, and I for one cannot think of any "social behavior" that could expose one to the virus, virus.

Secondly, School of Public Health Dean Fineberg is quoted as saying "The kind of people who are at risk are the college co-ed and her boyfriend." The single most undisputed fact about AIDS is that gay men, intravenous drug users, and hemophiliacs constitute the overwhelming majority of AIDS victims, and are unequivocally the greatest risk groups. To speak of "the college co-ed and her boyfriend" as a risk group is patently absurd.

Misinformation such as that contained in this article contributes to the increasing AIDS panic, as well as to discrimination against AIDS victims and AIDS high risk groups. I am deeply troubled to see such misleading and unquestionably wrong information perpetrated throughout the press. Dorothee E. Benz '87