HIV testing needed to protect infants and their mothersThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 18, 1999

HIV testing needed to protect infants and their mothers

The Sun's report on a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on AIDS transmission from pregnant women to their babies is welcome news indeed ("Study finds transmission of AIDS to infants cut 67%," Aug. 11).

The researchers credit AZT drug treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women and their newborns with this dramatic reduction and promise virtual elimination of maternal infant transmission of HIV with the use of newer drugs and Caesarean deliveries.

Unfortunately, the study fails to stress the importance of HIV-testing pregnant or pre-pregnant women to assure early treatment that protects the fetus.

In past studies, 45 percent of women giving birth to HIV-infected babies did not know they were HIV positive and reported they did not know the source of their infection -- which was usually intravenous drugs or a drug-using or otherwise HIV-infected sexual partner.

Action is needed. All pregnant or pre-pregnant women must be informed about HIV risk, offered HIV testing with counseling and given the required AZT treatment to protect their unborn.

Physicians need continuing education and enough time to counsel women and their partners about HIV risk.

Protecting HIV-test confidentiality must be weighed against expediting life-saving care for mother and fetus. Mandatory testing of pregnant women, now done for syphilis, must be seriously considered for HIV.

Anything less ignores the importance of this study to the health of mothers and babies and its implications for medical practice.

Dr. Eric M. Fine

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Council on Public Health of MedChi, the Maryland state medical society.

Bipartisanship is not Gov. Glendening's style

The Sun's article about Gov. Parris N. Glendening's election as vice chairman of the National Governors' Association notes that Mr. Glendening, "speaks with pride of his efforts at bipartisanship" ("Glendening positioned to lead governors' group," Aug. 7).

However, the only reason Mr. Glendening was picked as vice chairman of the governors' association is that the post is rotated between Democrats and Republicans. He didn't need the support of his Republican colleagues.

Mr. Glendening's style as governor is hardly bipartisan. His executive and judicial appointments are almost uniformly Democratic. His budgets have lavished spending on Democratic constituencies, while penalizing areas such as Carroll County that vote Republican.

Mr. Glendening is the most fiercely partisan governor in recent history. The professor from College Park should remember that he is governor of Maryland, not just the Democratic Party.

I expect that Mr. Glendening will use his new post to promote Democrats in 2000, not to bring together Republicans and Democrats together.

David S. Marks

Perry Hall

Uncle Sam's been soaking his rich uncle: the taxpayer

The analogy of the dying rich uncle in The Sun's editorial "Taking the long view on debt" (Aug. 12) was flawed.

A better analogy: Your rich uncle (the taxpayers) has been paying all of your expenses for years, increasing the amount he sends each year. Having gotten accustomed to his largess, you have not paid much attention to how you have spent it.

And you have run up considerable debt, figuring that uncle will pay it, too.

You suddenly find that if he continues to increase his contribution you will have much more than you reasonably need.

You have two choices. You can do as the Republicans propose -- use two-thirds of the excess to pay off the mortgage and car loan, then tell uncle that he need not send as much the next 10 years.

Or you can do as the president proposes -- use two-thirds to pay off debts, spend the remaining $1 trillion on new programs and then tell the uncle that you will need an additional $100 billion over the next 10 years.

And if your rich uncle has anything left when he does die, the president will expect anywhere from 37 to 55 percent of that also.

John F. Billing

Ocean Pines

National debt must be paid before anyone gets a refund

In his recent letter, George Pfeiffer wonders whether any local business could get away "holding" a "surplus" like the U.S. government has ("A taxpayer who wants a refund," Aug. 13).

I wonder what local business could get away maintaining a debt of nearly $5 trillion -- without its bankers taking a lien on what's owed, before any taxpayer is "refunded" his or her "overpaid" money?

We must pay off our national credit card debt before anyone gets a tax cut.

Stephen L. Sprecher

Catonsville

Boy Scouts have the right to define their moral code

How can Andrew Ratner be against the right of the Boy Scouts of America to determine its own code of conduct ("Boy Scouts wrong to keep policy that bars gays," Aug. 12)?

Participation in the Boy Scouts is purely voluntary; the organization doesn't force anything on anyone. Most of the scouts are younger than 18, and they generally start scouting around age 10 or 11.

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