6 MONTROSE VOICE/APRIL 10, 1987
Heterosexual Risk of AIDS is ' Very
Much Exaggerated/ Claims Army Study
By Larry Doyle
UPI Science Writer
CHICAGO—An influential Army study
purporting to document transmission of
AIDS from infected prostitutes to soldiers is flawed and has led to unwarranted fears the virus will quickly
infiltrate the heterosexual population, a
health official charged earlier this
John Potterat, director of infectious
disease at the El Paso County Health
Department in Colorado Springs, Colo.,
said April 2 that there is good evidence
suggesting the soldiers lied to investigators at Walter Reed Army Hospital in
Washington and were infected through
"classic high-risk activities"—
intravenous drug use or homosexual
Potterat also said other evidence of
female-to-male transmission is rare and
infection from heterosexual intercourse
unlikely, at least for men. He said that
while men can apparently infect
women, numbers of infected heterosexual men are likely to remain small, making a heterosexual epidemic unlikely.
"My feeling is that the threat to heterosexuals is very much exaggerated,"
Potterat said. "There's this idea that
there's going to be this real flood of heterosexual cases and I don't think we're
going to see that.
"I think it's going to be more of a
trickle than anything. Why panic the
entire population when in point of fact
the risk is very, very small."
Walter Reed researchers and other
health officials, including one from the
federal Centers for Disease Control,
acknowledged that heterosexuals are
probably less likely to contract AIDS
than are homosexuals, but said the risk
"It's perfectly clear (the virus) is not
spreading as fast in the heterosexual
population," said Dr. Tom Peterman, of
the Atlanta-based CDC. "But I don't
think there's any question that transmission occurs. The question is whether
it occurs frequently."
Potterat's charges, leveled in a letter
to the Journal of the American Medical
Association, refueled a continuing
debate over what conditions are neces-
VENICE, Italy (UPI)-A baker,
alarmed by rumors he was suffering
from AIDS, posted 200 leaflets earlier
this month on walls in Chioggia, an
industrial port at the southern end of
the Venice lagoon.
The leaflets carried a photocopy of a
medical certificate stating Giordano
Villan is not suffering from acquired
immune deficiency syndrome and a few
words of admonition to his fellow citizens.
"Because of inaccurate information,
the AIDS virus in recent years has
created a crazy form of racism in
society," Villan said April 2 in the leaflet. "For the information ofthe rumor-
mongers and credulous people who
believed them, here is a copy of my test
The baker said he blamed the rumors
for a recent loss of clients.
sary to transmit the virus that causes
acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
In October 1985, Dr. Robert Redfield
and his colleagues published the first
study appearing to document heterosexual AIDS transmission outside Third
World countries. The Walter Reed
reseachers interviewed nine men carrying the virus whose only admitted high
risk activity was heterosexual intercourse with prostitutes.
Although the study was later criticized by scientists questioning the truthfulness of soldiers asked to admit to
punishable offenses, the researchers
Potterat and associates tested their
hypothesis that soldiers are more likely
to reveal homosexual behavior or drug
use to civilian doctors by interviewing
20 soldiers infected with the AIDS virus.
Although only four admitted homosexual contact to military doctors, 14
acknowledged such activity to civilian
doctors. Three people admitted to
intravenous drug use, compared to one
in the military investigation.
Dr. David Wright, one of the Walter
Reed researchers, defended the Army
studies and said the hospital has since
seen a number of men who were infected
sexually by spouses who contracted the
virus from blood transfusions, "which
pretty much proves that it can happen."
"I don't know what the frequency
with which it occurs, but it does occur,
and it's important to realize that," he
said. "No one wants to believe that there
is heterosexual transmission, and
maybe that's why they don't want to
As of March 30, the CDC said 33,482
cases of AIDS had been reported in the
United States, resulting in 19,394
deaths. Of those cases, 1,261 have been
classified as heterosexually transmitted, 630 among Americans and 631
among Haitians and central Africans.
The ratio of American male-to-females
contracting the virus heterosexually is
Healthy sex is good for your mental well-being. Play
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