As a physician working in Washington, I am sad to say that I am diagnosing more women as either carriers of the AIDS virus or as having AIDS. At a time when a greater commitment is needed to curtail the spread of the virus, which will reach epidemic proportions in some of our communities, I am dismayed that Norplant is being touted as a contraceptive that "advances freedom and responsibility" {Judy Mann, Metro, Dec. 12}.

Protection against pregnancy is not the only consideration in the 1990s, when the threat from life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases prevails. Norplant offers no protection whatsoever against the AIDS virus.

At a time when more is being learned about the harmful effects of implanted devices -- witnessed by the increased adverse publicity that breast implants have received in recent weeks -- how can six silicone covered tubes inserted for five years possibly be as safe as the public is being led to believe? The assurances of manufacturers and health officials in the past did not prevent the problems that many women had to live with as a result of using the Dalcon Shield, for example, which was eventually recalled.

At a time when consumers have become more informed as to how products get to their shelves, it is necessary to investigate the conditions under which data were collected to allow for FDA approval of Norplant. Was informed consent for insertion obtained from women in Bangladesh, Egypt and Brazil, for example? Could women suffering from side effects have the implants removed on demand? Why were Norplant trials terminated in Brazil? Do women in this country need to experience side effects firsthand before these problems are publicized?

At a time when the ethical considerations of medicine are being more carefully examined, let us not forget that it was none other than the eugenist William Shockley who envisioned the development of "a subcutaneous injection of contraceptive time capsule, which provides a slow seepage of contraceptive hormones until it is removed." This bring us to a question touched upon by Judy Mann: Implanted and removed by whom?

Although there is no doubt that effective and safe contraception that also protects against the spread of sexually transmitted disease is needed, this should not detract us from raising basic questions about the conditions under which new forms of contraception are developed, tested and used. J. EL-BAYOUMI Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine George Washington University Medical Center Washington