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Fight Against AIDS May Mean Loss of Some Rights, Bowen Says

February 23, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Some civil rights may have to be sacrificed to combat AIDS because the disease "could well become one of the worst health problems in the history of the world," Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Bowen said Sunday.

Bowen said acquired immune deficiency syndrome is spreading incredibly fast, partly because of its long incubation period--leading people to unwittingly pass the disease through sexual contact or shared drug needles.

"This could well become one of the worst health problems in the history of the world," he told the National Governors' Assn. conference. "We may have to sacrifice some individual rights (to conquer the disease)."

Symposium on AIDS Issues

Bowen did not specify which rights might be at risk, but he said the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta this week will hold a symposium at which officials will discuss such issues as whether an AIDS test should be required to obtain a marriage license or to be admitted to a hospital.

"Even if we developed a vaccine tomorrow, we'd still be faced with a staggering increase in the number of AIDS cases down the line," said Bowen, who pointed out that up to 1.5 million people now are infected.

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