After a bitter three-hour debate, a Los Angeles City Council panel on Monday voted to kill a controversial proposal to have restaurant waitresses, busboys and cooks throughout the city tested for the AIDS virus every six months.
City Councilman Nate Holden, who authored the proposal, said such testing was needed because "there is so much unknown about the disease."
But the City Council's Arts, Health and Humanities Committee voted 2 to 0 to kill the proposal on the grounds that medical experts have never concluded that AIDS can be transmitted by restaurant workers through handling food.
After the meeting, Holden said he plans to submit a new proposal that would require health officials to test food handlers for tuberculosis and "hepatitis A because these are AIDS-related diseases."
AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, destroys the body's immune system leaving it powerless to resist infection. It is most commonly transmitted through blood or semen during unprotected anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, or through the sharing of contaminated hypodermic needles by intravenous drug users.
Holden argued that even a "remote possibility" of becoming infected with the AIDS virus at a restaurant should warrant testing of food handlers.
City Councilman Joel Wachs, who chairs the committee, disagreed saying: "There could be a purple cow floating right now through the sky but I haven't seen one.
"Mr. Holden, you have your opinion and I have mine," Wachs said, "and we disagree."