Editor: If Rudolph Almaraz kept silent about having AIDS because he doubted the ability of the news media, Johns Hopkins and the public, including his own patients, to react without hysteria, he was certainly justified. The sensationalism with which this story has been approached only confirms the validity of that decision.
The Sun acts irresponsibly by legitimizing reactions of panic, in view of the extreme unlikelihood of the doctor having transmitted the disease to his patients.
Had Dr. Almaraz felt that Johns Hopkins Hospital would have the courage to publicly support his desire to continue performing surgery in a safe manner and that The Sun would not deliberately generate and magnify unreasonable fears, his patients might have been able to be fully informed of his condition before surgery and in a position to determine for
ourselves what risks were real and acceptable.
Dr. Almaraz is not the only physician with AIDS. The Sun does us no service by further discouraging doctors and hospitals from being truthful about the existence of this condition in health care providers.
For the record: Dr. Almaraz performed my cancer surgery and in doing so, I believe, made a conscientious effort to minimize any ++ risks which could reasonably be expected. I am grateful to have been under his care.
$ Terri R. Warren. Baltimore.
AIDS vs. the AMA
Editor: AIDS. The most difficult problem in medical history must be dealt with immediately in an organized, universal fashion. The AMA has had a duty for several years to deal with the problem ethically and medically, but has yet to do so effectively. Patients and health-care professionals need immediate guidelines. We, the public, as patients and health-care providers, must know what the rules are.
Are we to enter treatment in the dark? Should a health-care provider not know the status of a patient? The answer, I believe, should be no, but there is no simplistic answer. All of us, patients and health care-providers, should be aware of all the facts available before treatment.
Drafting of ethical guidelines will, indeed, be a most difficult task. Should a health-care provider who has AIDS be prevented from treating patients? Should the institution protect them economically if they are infected while rendering treatment? No easy answers here, but the time has come and passed to deal with the problems.
My limited experience leads me to believe that a major symposium be presented by the AMA with all patient groups, health-care providers, hospitals, AIDS patients and special-interest groups giving input.
After all this data are gathered, guidelines should be established to speak to hospitals, health-care providers and patients concerning their rights and obligations. Anything less and we do a disservice to us all.
% Hilary D. Caplan. Baltimore.
The writer is a judge of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City.
Editors: Did anyone else notice anything unusual about people in the Manna House soup kitchen picture in the Dec. 2 Sunday Sun?
Look again. They are all male. All have on nice, warm jackets. Not one looks to be in ill health or over 30 years old.
Now ask yourself where are all the women and children -- especially the children -- that we keep hearing about. Where are the men getting such nice, warm clothes? Does anybody know if they are really needy? Does anyone check?
Each month we send food to one of the local soup kitchens and give canned goods to the Franciscan Center. Each month I earnestly hope that it is reaching people who honestly need it. But I am getting increasingly angry at what appears to be too many freeloaders taking advantage of the many generous people giving of their time, money, etc.
Isn't there some way we can weed out the spongers?
& Frances C. Miller. Baltimore.
Editor: The world needs to fast become independent of Near East oil. The rational and moderate will never prevail in that part of the world. Adolescents aspire to self-sacrifice in holy wars. Women are voteless, often under-educated second-class human beings. Parliaments and a free press are repressed.
Can we remain dependent for a vital commodity on states so subject to fanaticism? Should we continue to enrich states that are autocratic and so incurably sexist?
President Bush has made a small start toward independence by putting $35 million into solar energy, but much, much, more is needed.
M. Lawson Rutherford.
Nothing Wrong with Public High-Rises
Editor: ''Poor families with children should not be housed in high-rises,'' says Ginger Thompson (''Getting Rid of High-Rise Projects?'' Perspective, Dec. 2), citing violence, vandalism, filth and drug dealers as factors which make the quality of life unacceptable.
I beg to differ. I beg to point out that most of the problems suffered by public housing residents are not inflicted on them by uncontrollable outside forces -- they are brought on by themselves.