Reflecting the emergence of AIDS as a political issue, Senate and House members are expected to consider a wide range of bills today that are aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.
The eight bills to be considered represent about a third of all legislation pending before Congress that deals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
The Senate is likely to take up a measure, sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), that would allocate nearly $1 billion for research, treatment and a major public education campaign about AIDS, the deadly virus that has struck more than 39,000 Americans since 1981.
On Tuesday the House overwhelmingly approved the creation of a 15-member national commission on AIDS. Commission members, who would be appointed by the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tem, would advise Congress on policy issues. President Reagan appointed a similar panel last month.
Today the House subcommittee on health and the environment is slated to begin two days of hearings on a bill sponsored by subcommittee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) designed to expand voluntary testing and protect the civil rights of those who agree to be tested for the AIDS virus.
The measure, which has the endorsement of major health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospital Association, is expected to meet strong resistance from lawmakers who support mandatory testing. Kennedy has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
Waxman's subcommittee also will consider seven bills sponsored by Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Calif.), an outspoken proponent of mandatory AIDS testing.
Dannemeyer's measures would require testing of hospital patients between the ages of 15 and 49 as well as clients of sexually transmitted disease clinics and would require state health officials to collect the names and addresses of infected persons and contact their sexual partners.
Another Dannemeyer bill would prohibit the "transfer of bodily fluids" by federal employes or military personnel who have AIDS.
The Kennedy bill the Senate may consider today is cosponsored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and would provide nearly $1 billion for services that range from the hiring of additional medical researchers to the creation of an international research data bank.
The measure would create a rapid AIDS evaluation facility at the National Institutes of Health, authorize the hiring of up to 725 additional employes at the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and allocate $115 million for a national public information campaign and $150 million for state and local AIDS prevention.
Waxman's bill, which has 50 cosponsors, is regarded as the major AIDS testing measure before Congress. The bill also has the support of some gay-rights groups that traditionally have opposed testing.
The measure, which would authorize the expenditure of $1.2 billion over the next three years to expand counseling and testing at authorized sites, would bar disclosure of test results except in certain "medically appropriate circumstances" to certain health care workers or sexual partners.
It would require written consent prior to testing, and counseling before and after the test was administered. The bill also would permit civil penalties and other sanctions against those who breach confidentiality and would bar discrimination against those who test positive.
"This bill offers confidentiality provisions that will encourage people to come in and be tested," said Rep. James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.) who called the measure a tribute to Rep. Stewart B. McKinney (R-Conn.), who died last spring of AIDS.
The House yesterday passed a bill that would appropriate $954.4 million for research and other AIDS activities, an increase of $466.2 million over the 1987 amount and $179 million more than the president's budget requested.