Lyndon LaRouche, designer of a state initiative that could lead to the quarantine of everyone carrying the AIDS virus, said on a radio talk show that the acquired immune deficiency syndrome is spread through the air and by mosquitoes.
LaRouche made his remarks, which are believed to be his first public comments about the measure that has qualified for the November ballot, during a telephone interview Friday with KGO radio talk show host Ronn Owens.
"A person with AIDS running around is like a person with a machine gun running around shooting up a neighborhood," LaRouche said.
Attacks Immune System
AIDS attacks the body's immune system and leaves its victims vulnerable to a variety of infections. Experts believe that it is spread through blood and semen. Health officials estimate that approximately 250,000 Californians are infected with AIDS and do not know it.
The AIDS initiative would place AIDS on the state's official list of infectious, contagious and communicable diseases. It could lead to large-scale testing for the virus and quarantine of those infected with the virus but not suffering from the disease. The California Medical Assn. and other regional medical societies have come out against the initiative.
On the talk show, LaRouche blamed the Soviet Union for engineering what he termed the the AIDS "conspiracy."
"There is no question that it can be transmitted by mosquitoes," LaRouche said, citing as supporting evidence the high incidence of the disease in Africa, the Caribbean and southern Florida.
Sexually Active Adults
But Dr. Robert Benjamin, chief of communicable disease in Alameda County, said inhabitants of tropical countries afflicted with AIDS are sexually active adults who probably contracted the disease through sex, and infants who probably caught it from the wombs of infected mothers during childbirth.
"What LaRouche says about mosquitoes is blatantly unfounded," he said.
Benjamin also said that the idea that the disease is casually transmitted "is the most dangerous misconception I can think of." He accused LaRouche of trying to stir up hysteria through misinformation.
Dr. Dean Echenberg, San Francisco's chief of communicable diseases, disputed LaRouche's contention that anyone infected with AIDS will probably die within five years. He said research shows that 20% to 30% of those infected will develop the disease within five years.