The article by Restak demonstrates the principle of AIDS-related hysteria very well. No matter how intelligent a person is, factual knowledge can yield easily to this dangerous blend of homophobic thinking.
Every bit of scientific literature, from the complete issue of the June, 1985 Journal of the American Medical Assn. to the risk-reduction guidelines of the World Health Organization indicates that AIDS is not spread by casual contact. Although the AIDS virus has been found in tears and saliva, there has not been one documented case where it has been transmitted that way. There is also almost universal agreement that the only way the AIDS epidemic will ever be brought under control is through a massive educational program on every level.
To compare AIDS with other communicable diseases is to miss the central point of why the United States was so long in coming to terms with the disease in the first place. Never in human history has such a deadly disease been linked to a minority group that is generally despised and whose civil rights are constantly in peril. Thus, through specious arguments like those advanced by Restak, it is very easy to substitute rational thought with dark whispers of quarantine and scorn for AIDS victims’ rights. AIDS is not only a general plague, it is very much a civil-rights issue.
No one says precautions are unnecessary, but precautions must be based on facts and risks that are known, not on every possible conjecture, whether substantiated or not. Although Restak presents himself as a reasonable man, his arguments strain under the weight of his enormous anti-gay bias.