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AMA Adopts a Cautious AIDS Report

June 23, 1987|United Press International

CHICAGO — The American Medical Assn. today adopted its first comprehensive report on AIDS, calling for more national leadership in dealing with the epidemic and a cautious approach to screening people for the virus.

The AMA recommended against expanding mandatory AIDS testing beyond select populations--inmates, immigrants, the military, and donors of blood, organs and other biological products.

The AMA also decided to start a wide-reaching AIDS public awareness and information program and endorsed the use of condoms as one useful measure to contain the spread of the AIDS virus.

The AMA's AIDS policy statement, accepted by its 406-member House of Delegates at its annual policy-making meeting, fell in line with previous recommendations made by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

Caution in Testing Urged

The delegates voted to accept a highly debated report from their board of trustees urging caution in AIDS testing and emphasizing the rights of those tested.

But AMA officials emphasized that the group's position on the issue goes beyond setting AIDS-testing guidelines.

"We're calling for a national commission to look at this problem, we're calling for increased training for counseling and we're calling for appropriate care to be given to those afflicted with this illness," said Dr. Robert McAfee, an AMA trustee.

"I realize that AIDS testing is a sexy issue, but we don't want to emphasize it," he said. "We're saying, in essence, 'Let's have some national leadership on this problem.' "

Will Explore Ethical Issues

In a separate resolution, the AMA called for an AIDS awareness program that would include teaching in elementary and high schools. The group also planned to explore the confidential and ethical issues raised by AIDS-infected people who refuse to inform their sexual partners or modify their behavior.

The AMA also endorsed the use of condoms and voted to investigate the possibility of a cooperative venture to develop standards and produce tasteful public service announcements regarding such use.

The Justice Department is planning mandatory AIDS tests of federal prisoners and immigrants seeking permanent residence. President Reagan has called on the states to conduct "routine" tests of applicants for marriage licenses and people seeking treatment for drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

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