A story about the lack of AIDS counseling for rape victims (Cutting Edge, Sept. 25) inaccurately described the scope of a Maryland study on the subject. The study was based on a survey of rape treatment centers in hospitals. (Published 10/2/90)
Rape crisis centers rarely provide tests to detect the AIDS virus or counsel people who have been assaulted about the disease, Maryland health authorities have discovered. "The vast majority of directors at those centers had the attitude: The poor girl has already been traumatized enough. Why should we worry her about AIDS?" said Ilene Foster, a registered nurse with the Baltimore County Health Department, which helped conduct the survey.
"I understand the psychological trauma, but I still think there's a medical responsibility toward preventing AIDS," she said.
Foster and John G. Bartlett, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, completed a study of 20 rape treatment centers in Maryland earlier this year and found that only two had been providing testing and counseling for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.
Four other centers were considering doing so, according to the survey.
The survey asked whether centers had an AIDS policy and whether they were recommending that victims take measures to protect themselves from being infected with the virus.
Both Foster and Bartlett raised the possibility of providing victims with applications either of Nonoxynol-9, the active ingredient in over-the-counter foam spermicides, which has killed the virus in laboratory tests, or vinegar douches, which have also had success in laboratory tests.
No studies have proved the effectiveness of such measures after intercourse. Both Foster and Bartlett, however, said such action should be considered in light of the deadly nature of the virus.