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Times Poll on AIDS

January 03, 1986

Tattoo AIDS victims? It would logically follow that herpes sufferers also be tattooed, perhaps with an "H" and corresponding letters for TB and cancer, although this could get confusing when we come to the letter "L." Is this leukemia or leprosy? We'll have to carry disease decoder lists to be certain.

The very question is illogical and regressive and is as absurd as requiring adulterous women to wear a scarlet letter on their foreheads.

ID cards for AIDS victims? Close gay bars? These types of questions are clearly meant to titillate and do not determine what is right. Since the questions themselves are faulty, they only measure fear and misconceptions.

The public would be much better served by asking, "Has the government responded to the AIDS epidemic with the same commitment that it applied to the recent swine flu and Legionnaires' disease outbreaks?" Or, "Should every AIDS victim be immediately offered an experimental anti-viral drug, such as Compound S, on a compassionate protocol basis?" Enlightened questions can elicit thinking, caring responses from the same randomized sample.

It would be preferable to have ID cards to identify rabble-rousing members of the media--broadcast and print--who are a greater threat to society than AIDS victims (who largely do not culture positive for the virus due to the depleted number of their hosts cells and are therefore probably not infectious to others).

AIDS hysteria is unwarranted if not unprecedented. Cancer patients were likewise shunned a few decades ago. Knowing that AIDS is transmitted by active means and requires consensual behavior and not passively, the victims do not deserve the neglect and vituperation heaped upon them by the headline-seeking media.

The best unasked question in The Times poll would be, "Should pollsters who ask inane questions be quarantined?"


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