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Nonsense on AIDS

August 24, 1986

It would be easy to ignore or even to laugh at Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. if he weren't so destructive. LaRouche, the leader of an ultra-conservative political fringe group, spends mostof his time bashing bankers, Jews, Henry A. Kissinger and the Queen of England, who he says is a drug-pusher. His latest scapegoats are homosexuals. In California, LaRouche and his twisted groupies are promoting Proposition 64, meant to whip up anti-gay hysteria. Proposition 64 would serve no conceivable public purpose and, like LaRouche, should be dismissed as nonsense.

Proposition 64, which will appear on the ballot on Nov. 4, would add the AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) virus to the state's list of communicable diseases. If the proposition passes, public health officials will be obliged to strictly enforce the state's health code whether they believe such enforcement is necessary or not. It could require the testing of anyone suspected of being infected by the AIDS virus. An estimated 300,000 Californians are infected with the virus, though not quite 5,000 have AIDS. Those infected could be isolated, quarantined or barred from working in schools, restaurants and the health field.

Proposition 64 akes no sense, and is based not on medical evidence but on hatred and fantasy. LaRouche's group, called PANIC (for Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee), completely misreads the nature of AIDS and the means needed to treat it. Proposition 64 is premised on the notion that AIDS can be transmitted by insects, breathing and the most casual of human contact. None of these claims have been substantiated medically, and a majority in the medical community, including the California Medical Assn., has rejected the LaRouche group's assertions. So did a Superior Court when it ordered PANIC's ballot arguments stricken from the voter pamphlet for Proposition 64.

AIDS, as best as can be determined, is not a highly contagious disease. It is spread mainly by sexual conduct, by the injection of contaminated blood (usually by blood transfusions or the sharing of hypodermic needles) or by an infected, pregnant mother to her unborn child. The overwhelming majority of cases are transmitted by homosexual and bisexual men, intravenous drug users and hemophiliacs.

Current law grants public health officials broad authority to protect people from AIDS if they believe it contagious--including the power to quarantine AIDS victims. They have not done so because it is not necessary.

Proposition 64 would codify the idea that the AIDS virus is easily transmitted. It would codify the fear of homosexuals as well, and would confuse research efforts on AIDS. It is bad policy, and should be rejected in November.

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