Mayor Bradley and the Los Angeles City Council may have irrevocably destroyed their political credibility by supporting the AIDS anti-discrimination ordinance. Like Gov. Jerry Brown, who ignored the fruit fly to his political peril, Mr. Bradley has made a commitment to an untenable law.
AIDS is the most devastating infectious epidemic of modern times. While medicine is still studying its cause and means of transmission, it may be years before we can expect a suitable treatment. Meanwhile, society must act to protect the uninfected.
Although there are questions about the degree of infectivity and means of transmission, it seems prudent to limit contact with infected individuals. While we sort out degrees of contagion by blood, semen, tears and saliva, we must protect society.
Blood and semen of infected persons are the known vectors of this disease, but AIDS virus has also been cultured from saliva and tears so that the threat from more than casual contact to the healthy individual is not known.
In face of this uncertainty the anti-discrimination ordinance seems inappropriate. Reasonable people may have fully justified fears of close contact with either AIDS patients or persons positive for HTLV-3, the AIDS marker.
We require syphilis and rubella tests before marriage but not the HTLV-3 test. When we were ignorant about leprosy and tuberculosis, we isolated patients while science caught up with the disease. Before antibiotics and immunizations, we quarantined infected individuals until they were non-infectious. Such measures must be considered in the AIDS crisis.
This epidemic must be controlled before it jumps irrevocably into the mass of society.
JOHN F. BRIDGMAN MD