Isolation of willful AIDS transmitters in sanitariums is anathema today, but for other contagious diseases isolation has been practiced with great benefit: The healthy are protected from infection, and the sick receive care in a specialized environment.
Most of those who know they have AIDS will not knowingly give it to another. But some will continue to do so. For them, isolation may be necessary.
New studies indicate that at least one-fourth of those who know they have AIDS do not warn their sexual partners.
I have seen hospitalized AIDS patients who state that they will return to the street to solicit sexual partners; these people cannot now be confined by legal means.
The cause of this deadly behavior is not understood but may result in part from the fact that the AIDS virus infects and damages the brain, with psychological impairment in at least half of those who test positive for HIV, even before the visible onset of AIDS.
An exploitative media has not helped, either. Television programs and movies that depict teen-age sex without at the same time educating the public about the disease salaciously exploit our prudery but also damage efforts to control AIDS. Sad to say, in America the spread of AIDS is not only politically protected but is also abetted by religion and furthered by the media.
The HIV virus has no known natural reservoir; only humans carry it. Consequently, if a majority of infected persons ceased to put others at risk, and if the healthy protected themselves, AIDS would disappear forever, as smallpox did.
If the enormous powers of government, church and media brought to bear an open collaboration to advocate the practice of safe and responsible sex, the results might well be amazing.