The following are excerpts from President Reagan's prepared text at the awards dinner of the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

I want to talk tonight about the disease that has brought us all together. The poet W.H. Auden said that the true men of action in our times are not the politicians and statesmen, but the scientists. I believe that's especially true when it comes to the AIDS epidemic.

Those of us in government can educate our citizens about the dangers; we can encourage safe behavior; we can test to determine how widespread the virus is; we can do any number of things. But only medical science can ever truly defeat AIDS. We've made remarkable progress already . . . .

Science is clearly capable of breathtaking advances, but it's not capable of miracles. Because of AIDS' long incubation period, it will take years to know if a vaccine works. These tests require time, and this is a problem money cannot overcome. We will not have a vaccine on the market until the mid- to late 1990s at best.

Since we don't have a cure for the disease and we don't have a vaccine against it, the question is, how do we deal with it in the meantime? . . . .

What our citizens must know is this: America faces a disease that is fatal and spreading. This calls for urgency, not panic. It calls for compassion, not blame. And it calls for understanding, not ignorance. It's also important that America not reject those who have the disease, but care for them with dignity and kindness. Final judgment is up to God; our part is to ease the suffering and to find a cure. This is a battle against disease, not against our fellow Americans.

We must not allow those with the AIDS virus to suffer discrimination. I agree with Secretary of Education {William J.} Bennett -- we must firmly oppose discrimination against those who have AIDS. We must prevent the persecution, through ignorance or malice, of our fellow citizens.

As dangerous and deadly as AIDS is, many of the fears surrounding it are unfounded. These fears are based on ignorance . . . .

The Public Health Service has stated that there's no medical reason for barring a person with the virus from any routine school or work activity. There's no reason for those who carry the AIDS virus to wear a scarlet A . . . .

Education is critical to clearing up the fears. Education is also crucial to stopping the transmission of the disease. Since we don't yet have a cure or a vaccine, the only thing that can halt the spread of AIDS right now is a change in the behavior of those Americans who are at risk.

As I've said before, the federal role is to provide scientific, factual information. Corporations can help get the information out; so can community and religious groups. And, of course, so can the schools -- with guidance from the parents and with a commitment, I hope, that AIDS education, or any aspect of sex education, will not be value-neutral . . . .

Just as most individuals don't know they carry the virus, no one knows to what extent the virus has infected our entire society. AIDS is surreptitiously spreading throughout our population, and yet we have no accurate measure of its scope. It is time we knew exactly what we were facing. And that is why I support routine testing.

I have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to determine as soon as possible the extent to which the AIDS virus has penetrated our society and to predict its future dimensions.

I have also asked HHS to add the AIDS virus to the list of contagious diseases for which immigrants and aliens seeking permanent residence in the United States can be denied entry.

I have asked the Department of Justice to plan for testing all federal prisoners, as well as looking into ways to protect uninfected inmates and their families.

In addition, I've asked for a review of other federal responsibilities, such as veterans hospitals, to see if testing might be appropriate in these areas. This is in addition to the testing already under way in our military and Foreign Service.

Now let me turn to what the states can do. Some are already at work. While recognizing the individual's choice, I encourage states to offer routine testing for those who seek marriage licenses and for those who visit sexually transmitted disease or drug-abuse clinics. And I encourage states to require routine testing in state and local prisons.

Not only will testing give us more information on which to make decisions, but in the case of marriage licenses, it might prevent at least some babies from being born with AIDS. And anyone who knows how viciously AIDS attacks the body cannot object to this humane consideration. I would think that everyone getting married would want to be tested.