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Public Still Misinformed About the Disease AIDS

September 06, 1986

I found the article on Jerry Smith so disturbing, not only because of its content, but because I feel, as a member of the terrified and often misinformed public, I have once again been victimized by half-truths regarding the heinous disease, AIDS.

While my heart goes out to Jerry and all sufferers of the disease, why must we be made even more paranoid of its dangers than we already are?

On the surface, it appears he has fallen victim of the most unlikely of tragic circumstances (yet another heterosexual unfortunate enough to contract the deadly disease through unknown means). But at closer inspection, it is understood that Smith is not the first famous athlete with AIDS, but rather the first homosexual athlete with it.

The writer, George Solomon, tells us that this "disclosure destroys the stereotype that AIDS is a disease of drug addicts and hairdressers." We must assume that hairdressers is a euphemism for gays and thereby assume that Smith is not gay, right? Wrong! Why would he be unwilling to elaborate on his life style if he were neither gay nor a drug addict?

If Smith really wants to help people understand this hideous disease, don't you think it would be fair to mention how he contracted it? While it is true no one is totally safe from AIDS, it is also true that having "intimate" male homosexual sex greatly enhances one's chances of getting it. This is not an indictment against homosexuality, just a plea to please spare us from ambiguous, sensational journalism.

DANA MERINO

Burbank

Editor's note: It was not writer George Solomon commenting on drug addicts and hairdressers. He was quoting the director of a Washington clinic that was clearly identified as one that treats and counsels homosexuals.

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