Republican candidate for Virginia governor Wyatt B. Durrette said today that, if elected, he would propose legislation requiring that couples applying for a marriage license first have a blood test to detect exposure to the AIDS virus.
In a letter mailed to about 8,000 Virginia doctors, Durrette said a law is needed "so that both parties will be aware of any risk they may be facing, especially the risks to their future children."
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a fatal disease for which there currently is no cure, has received widespread publicity in recent months, heightened by the death of actor Rock Hudson, who had contracted AIDS. Durrette cited Hudson's death in announcing his proposals.
"It raises some privacy concerns," Chan Kendrick of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU, said. "Is it really the government's business to require mandatory testing for certain things and not others before two people get married?"
Kendrick noted that the proposal does address "a public health concern" and appears to be the first proposal of its kind.
Although Virginia requirements for mandatory blood tests were abolished only last year, Durrette said, "Now, there is a need to reinstitute the procedure to help deal with this new threat to the health of our people."
Durrette said he would establish an information clearinghouse in the Department of Health to assist local school boards, colleges and parents dealing with AIDS-infected children. He also said he would appoint a blue-ribbon medical panel to make recommendations for other public health regulations or enforcement mechanisms to deal with the disease.