Medicine: Medicine: Feb. 17, 1986

Lessening Fears

Contact does not spread AIDS

Since acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was first recognized in 1981, it has struck 17,000 Americans, killing nearly half of them. But even more rampant than the deadly disease itself is a secondary epidemic: fear. AIDS patients around the country have become society's new untouchables. Workers have been fired; babies abandoned; children, like Ryan White of Kokomo, Ind., banned from school. The fears have persisted despite assurances from doctors that AIDS has been known to spread almost exclusively through sexual contact and exposure to infected blood. A poll taken last summer showed that nearly half of...

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