Nicholas Hentoff's Dec. 28 op-ed article "Doctors With Aids" is one-sided when it comes to the risks of transmission of the virus during surgical procedures.

Not even a word of concern is expressed by Mr. Hentoff for the protection of the health worker from the patient. As he states, the puncture of gloves "occurs frequently," which means that infection can occur from the patient to the health worker as well. As a medical doctor, I agree that testing should be mandatory for those who perform invasive procedures as well as for the patients on whom such procedures are performed.


I am happy to see that attorney Nicholas Hentoff is so quick with his can opener, because that can of worms called the AIDS guidelines has seen its expiration date come and go. Anyone whose concerns include health care will gladly agree that a new approach to the issue of patients' rights is overdue when it comes to the risk of AIDS. We must not forget, however, that any guidelines we expect from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association should not only safeguard the rights of patients but the rights of care givers as well.

Speaking as one who has recently been on the invasive end of a sharp implement, I was reasonably concerned as to the risk of infection at the hands of my practitioner. His concern should have been just as great, because at no time was I tested for AIDS and I could have just as easily infected him as he me. I understand, of course, that testing could take weeks that can't be spared in emergency care, but if I were to wait while a certifiably HIV-negative physician was found to treat me, I'm sure that the results from my own blood test would have been easier and quicker to come by.

The very idea that patients should be judged on the basis of their Western Blot Test is so repugnant to most of us that The Post's mailbag would overflow if Mr. Hentoff were to suggest it. I can only hope that there will be a better solution to this problem than judging surgeons and other health care professionals by theirs. DAVID McEWAN College Park