To the editor: One important detail is missing from the article about similarities between the current coronavirus pandemic and the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
President Trump, however grudgingly, is at least acknowledging and addressing the crisis. But under President Reagan, the AIDS crisis was almost completely ignored, epitomized in the infamous response of Reagan’s Press Secretary Larry Speakes to a reporter’s question about why nothing was being done: “I don’t have it, do you?”
Vincent Brook, Los Angeles
To the editor: Cuba most certainly did quarantine HIV-positive people at the height of the AIDS epidemic, as this article notes. At the time, Cuba was faced with a dangerous disease that required the strongest possible measures to contain. It was not about “stigma.”
Those early patients were isolated, cared for and instructed how to take care of themselves and not infect others. Later on, as more became known about HIV, the required period of quarantine was retained for the purpose of initial treatment and education. But once the responsible authorities felt confidence in the patients’ ability to be released into the general public, they were sent back to their families and loved ones.
Cuba emerged as the country in the Caribbean and Latin America with the lowest per-capita rate of infection. Now, Cuba sends medical specialists to countries around the world that are facing similar public health catastrophes.
It might have flown in the face of cherished notions about civil liberties if our country had done the same, but there would have been many thousands fewer lives lost. I write as a gay senior who lived through that period and saw hundreds of my friends die.
Eric A. Gordon, Los Angeles