In her article "Views of 4 U.S. AIDS Panelists Hit" {front page, Aug. 26}, Sandra Boodman appears to be doing exactly what she criticizes members of the president's AIDS commission for doing: prejudging the commission before its first meeting had even been held. The effect is to create additional divisiveness and hostility in society, where there is already more than enough.

Her article on the commission was critical of several members. Certain statements she attributed to me are inaccurate. In regard to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, I told her that I think he is a man of great integrity and courage; I told her that I have the highest respect for him even though I disagree with some of his views. I emphasized that our differences are fewer now than in the recent past.

Sandra Boodman stated that I had not modified my views. In fact, I told her I was keeping an open mind while looking for common ground and better solutions and was optimistic that the president's commission could accomplish this goal.

I did, however, comment that even experts, because of their own powerful denial systems and wishful thinking, sometimes draw conclusions that are inaccurate or that don't take into consideration other equally valid interpretations. Consistently representing data in the most positive light and making absolute statements such as "This cannot happen" or "This is impossible" are well intended, but in my opinion, "I don't know yet" or "It appears improbable" would be a wiser course, avoiding the necessity of changing positions when new information surfaces.

Society has a common goal, as do the members of the AIDS commission: stop AIDS. A diversity of views is represented on the panel, which has the potential to work through these differences to a common solution.

Today, the virus is winning, using the strategy "Divide and conquer." The AIDS virus is our enemy, not each other. Our judgment as a society will be reflected in the death toll, because this is, indeed, a preventable disease. I hope to see us stop arguing among ourselves and, instead, begin fighting together in the battle against AIDS.


San Diego