The editorial "AIDS and Minorities" {Aug. 12} made a number of important points, and The Post should be commended for it. Unfortunately, the editorial made some of those points by indulging in stereotypes that may impede effective strategies to combat the AIDS epidemic.

The Post's language repeatedly implies a dichotomy between gay and minority communities; actually, they overlap significantly. It is simply not true, as the editorial asserted, that "some" blacks and Hispanics with AIDS are gay or bisexual but that "many more are intravenous drug users." The Aug. 3 report of the Centers for Disease Control shows "homosexual/bisexual male" as the largest transmission category for blacks and Hispanics.

As The Post stated, special efforts must be made to reach intravenous drug users and their sexual partners. Special efforts must also be made to reach black and Hispanic men who engage in sexual activity with other men -- and their sexual partners, male or female. The myth that homosexual activity is rare in those communities is a serious barrier to prevention efforts, and the editorial, perhaps unwittingly, propagated that myth.

Another stereotype is implied by The Post's statement that "gays are generally better off financially" than "minority communities" and that "many have private health insurance." Gay Americans come in all colors, occupations and income levels. There is no evidence that gays are wealthier than the national average. Whatever the average case is, very few people -- gay or straight, black or white -- can afford the financial costs of AIDS. Even people with private insurance coverage frequently lose it when they become disabled by AIDS.

We appreciate The Post's recognition that the gay community has responded to AIDS with an outpouring of creative, compassionate volunteer efforts, and that gay men have changed their sexual behavior dramatically to reduce the spread of AIDS. Those efforts and responses have not been the sole domain of white men.

The key to prevention efforts is to promote an accurate perception of risk within each self-identified community -- whether that community is defined by sexual orientation, ethnicity, drug use, hemophilia or other factors. We must recognize the impact of AIDS on particular groups, but always remember that the solution to AIDS is everyone's responsibility. VIC BASILE Executive Director, Human Rights Campaign Fund Washington

The Post's editorial presented none of the substantive results achieved at the CDC conference in Atlanta. Instead, it propagated the stereotypes and stigmas identified at the conference as major obstacles in the battle against AIDS.

To educate, it is necessary to be nonjudgmental. Hastening to point out the differences between white people with AIDS (predominantly gay and bisexual men) and people of color with AIDS (predominantly intravenous drug users), The Post concluded that "there is a special need to protect others in the minority community," namely, the women who sleep with these men. Not only does this ignore the facts (the majority of black and Latino men with AIDS contracted the disease through same-sex male transmission), but it implies that the lives of some are more valuable than the lives of others.

Delegates at the conference recognized the need to look upon AIDS as "our" problem, not "their" problem. The concept of high- and low-risk groups implies that AIDS affects only certain individuals. AIDS strikes all communities, and the result is always the same. To state that "AIDS problems are different in homosexual and minority communities" overlooks the common denominator for people with AIDS -- they all are living with the disease.

AIDS must be addressed by society as a whole. No benefit is derived from accusing some groups of not accepting their responsibility or from offering belated and patronizing recognition of the efforts of the gay community. Those who work to reduce the spread of AIDS are not interested in or served by these judgments. PAULA JONES Assistant Director National Association of People with AIDS Washington