Council Rejects AIDS Tests for Restaurant Workers
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a controversial proposal to have all restaurant waitresses, busboys and cooks throughout the city tested for the AIDS virus every six months.
During a highly emotional 90-minute debate, some council members castigated Councilman Nate Holden for writing the motion. Then the council voted 11 to 1 against the proposal, with only Holden supporting it.
Councilman Joel Wachs, who led the fight against the motion, asked his colleagues to make their vote “a flat-out repudiation of a law not founded in science . . . but in hatred, bigotry and fear.”
Dr. Shirley L. Fannin, chief of Los Angeles County’s disease control program, said there is no medical evidence to suggest that AIDS is transmitted by food handlers. She also argued that the cost of testing thousands of workers would be prohibitive.
“Try being the next victim and see if you care how much it costs,” Holden shot back.
But other medical authorities concurred with Fannin. And Deputy City Atty. David Schulman said the measure would be illegal under local, state and federal law, as well as being unconstitutional.
Holden backed up his position with testimony from Dr. William T. O’Connor of Vacaville, who said he has treated many AIDS patients over the years.
“This is a good proposal that is immediately necessary” to stop the spread of AIDS and a host of other communicable diseases such as hepatitis and tuberculosis, O’Connor said.
After the vote, Holden, whose nephew died of AIDS earlier this year, said of his fellow council members, “They didn’t have anyone die in the family. They haven’t had the personal pain.”