Even before its first meeting, the newly appointed presidential commission on AIDS is coming under new criticism by public health officials concerned about the presence of four members whose views on AIDS are controversial or contradict widely accepted scientific evidence about the disease.

These views include statements by a California physician that acquired immune deficiency syndrome might be transmitted casually, through saliva, on toilet seats or by mosquitos; an Illinois state legislator who has accused homosexuals of practicing "blood terrorism" by deliberately donating contaminated blood; a Michigan corporate executive who says he believes the gay community demands rights but has failed to act responsibly to prevent the spread of AIDS, and an Indiana doctor whose mobile AIDS testing van has been criticized by federal health officials for notifying people of test results by mail.

When the 13-member panel was appointed last month, President Reagan said he hoped it would "help us put aside all our suspicions and work together with common sense" to combat the disease. Almost immediately public health authorities and gay rights groups criticized its lack of expertise about AIDS. But the presence of members whose views could perpetuate myths public health officials have sought to dispel makes critics question the purpose of the panel.

"No panel at all would be preferable to the one we've got," said Dr. Sheldon M. Wolff, cochairman of an earlier panel sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Institute of Medicine that last year issued a report on AIDS calling for a massive public education campaign, increased federal spending and a national commission with oversight responsibility that would guide AIDS prevention. "I would hope at best they don't do any harm."

"They don't have to be experts on AIDS, but they ought to bring objectivity and sensitivity to the panel," said Wolff, physician-in-chief of New England Medical Center. "Some of these people come with very strong and prejudiced views, and one has to believe that maybe they were picked for that reason."

White House domestic policy adviser Gary L. Bauer said the commission members were deliberately chosen because they are "a group of distinguished Americans who reflect the views of ordinary people," not because they are experts.

Earlier this month the House approved the creation of its own 15-member advisory commission, which the White House opposed.

During the debate over the commission, which will be composed primarily of AIDS experts, several Democrats criticized what they called the "right-wing tilt" of the presidential panel.

Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, the panel chairman, said he sees his role as trying to "steer a middle course and keep an open mind."

"We've got people who are on both sides of controversial issues," said Mayberry, chief executive officer of the Mayo Foundation. "I would be very disappointed if we can't come to a consensus."

Mayberry acknowledged that the panel has an awesome task and a short time in which to accomplish it. The panel is charged with advising the president about the "medical, legal, ethical, social and economic impact" of the disease that has struck more than 41,000 Americans, most of them homosexual men, since 1981.

The commission is scheduled to meet for the first time in Washington Sept. 9 and every other month thereafter. Its preliminary report, which Mayberry says will be an overview of issues the panel will consider, is due Oct. 23. The final report is due next June.

The commission's executive director, Linda Shaffer, former acting director of the federal Office of Organ Transplantation, was hired last week. Shaffer has no professional background in AIDS, but said she has been "an avid reader about the issue" for years.

By law, most meetings of federal commissions must be open to the public. But Mayberry said recently he is concerned that gay activists may disrupt the meetings and said he thinks it will be difficult to accomplish much in public.

When Reagan named the commission, much of the attention focused on the only openly gay member, Frank Lilly, a prominent New York City geneticist who had served on the NAS panel, and New York's Cardinal John J. O'Connor, a staunch foe of gay rights legislation and explicit AIDS education programs.

But the views of four other panel members appear to be more controversial:Dr. Theresa Crenshaw, 44, a San Diego sex therapist and a frequent guest on talk shows, has said she believes AIDS could be transmitted through mosquitos, household pets, food handlers or public toilets, and that infected children should be barred from school.

In 1985 she persuaded the San Diego County Unified School District to adopt a policy barring AIDS-infected children from public schools, a recommendation that ran counter to the advice of federal and state health and education officials. That policy was later reversed.

Two years ago on a San Francisco television talk show, Crenshaw, who is past president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, said she had treated people who contracted venereal diseases from toilet seats and towels, which, she said, could also prove to be vehicles for transmitting AIDS. She also urged people to avoid public swimming pools.

Crenshaw told a San Diego radio audience last November that she believed the initiative on the California ballot sponsored by extremist Lyndon LaRouche that would quarantine AIDS patients was "the right legislation sponsored by the wrong group."

"I think we should fear AIDS more than quarantine," Crenshaw said recently.

Last March she testified before a congressional committee at the invitation of Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) that she considered condoms to be largely ineffective in preventing the spread of AIDS.

In a recent interview, Crenshaw said she has not modified her views. She said she considers public health officials, including Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, "dishonest" for ruling out casual contact as a method of transmission and said that researchers who have failed to find any evidence of casual transmission may interpret data from "a wishful point of view."

Dr. Donald I. Abrams, assistant director of AIDS activities at San Francisco General Hospital, appeared on a talk show with Crenshaw after station officials received complaints about her statements.

"I couldn't believe this woman is really a physician," Abrams recalled. "I felt she was dangerously misinformed, but she was able to package it in so smooth a fashion that it was palatable."

"Anytime she's on a talk show our phones go crazy and we have to spend a lot of time calming people down," said Lance Clem, education coordinator of the San Diego AIDS Project. "She represents everything that's obscure and hysterical about AIDS."

Crenshaw disputed those allegations and said she intends to be "as open-minded as possible."

"I don't exaggerate or distort the facts," she said. "If I'm wrong, no one will have to die to prove it. If the people who are being more casual are wrong, the only way they'll be proven wrong is through someone's death." Penny Pullen, an Illinois state legislator and ally of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, has accused public health officials, including Koop, of bowing to "the political clout of organized homosexuals." Pullen has also said that some homosexuals engage in "blood terrorism" by deliberately donating infected blood and encouraging others to do so.

Pullen, 40, assistant minority leader of the Illinois House, has sponsored legislation that would require testing of hospital patients between the ages of 13 and 55, marriage license applicants, prisoners and those convicted of sex or drug offenses. These bills, which were strongly opposed by the Illinois medical establishment and AIDS groups, passed the Illinois legislature and are awaiting action by Gov. James R. Thompson (R).

Pullen has been critical of Koop's advocacy of explicit AIDS education in elementary school and of other public health officials who, she said, have done little more than "counted bodies and wrung their hands."

In a recent newsletter Pullen sent to constituents, she wrote: "Is there any public health official anywhere who will cite the biblical warning to those still actively courting death through what these officials call merely an 'alternative life style,' the prediction in Paul's letter to the Romans: 'Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.' "

Pullen said she plans to "consider all approaches and viewpoints" during the panel's meetings.

"I don't think the fact that I have proposed specific strategies should preclude me in the development of policy," she said. Richard M. DeVos, president of Amway Corp. of Ada, Mich., said he is "unsure" whether casual contact is a risk.

DeVos, 51, a former Republican finance chairman, was the largest individual contributor to Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. He said Amway is developing an AIDS policy for its 7,000 employes, none of whom, to his knowledge, has contracted AIDS. Whether those who do will be able to keep their jobs depends, DeVos said, "on how communicable the disease is."

DeVos said he has a "simple stand" on homosexuality. "I hear a lot of people talk about gay rights, but I don't hear anybody talking about gay responsibilities," he said, adding that he believes the gay community has not shouldered enough responsibility for controlling the spread of AIDS.

Part of the problem, he said, is that "there is a sense in that community that {gay men} just can't control themselves" sexually.

DeVos is a supporter of the National Conservative Political Action Committee and was involved in the Christian Freedom Foundation, a group designed to encourage political activism among Christians. Dr. Cory SerVaas of Indianapolis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post, operates an AIDS Mobile to test blood and then notifies people of the results by mail.

SerVaas, 63, hosts a medical show on the Christian Broadcasting Network. She has taken the AIDS Mobile to cities around the country, including Washington, where she encourages recipients of blood transfusions and women planning pregnancy to be tested for AIDS, which, she says, "is the patriotic thing to do."

Those who agree to be tested sign consent forms with their names and addresses, which SerVaas said are stored in a computer and in a locked file at the Saturday Evening Post. Reluctant test takers are told their confidentiality will be assured if they give a false name or an address that is not their own. Those who test positive receive a letter asking them to call SerVaas or a counselor or doctor associated with a network developed by CBN.

While waiting for their tests, they can watch an interview SerVaas taped for her CBN show with Dr. James W. Curran, director of AIDS programs at the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Curran said he has no involvement in the AIDS Mobile and does not endorse its activities. Doctors and public health officials who work with AIDS patients say test results, whether negative or positive, should be given in person only and accompanied by intensive pre- and post-test counseling.

"I have a lot of problems with getting results in the mail," said Curran. "How can you be certain the address matches the blood, or that somebody isn't playing a trick on another person? How can you be sure someone will get adequate referral for follow-up care?"

SerVaas, who said she has personally counseled about 20 people who tested positive, dismisses such criticisms as "ridiculous."

"You put 'personal and confidential' on the letter, and then you count on the U.S. mail," she said. "We have the greatest respect for confidentiality."

Other panel members include Dr. Woodrow A. Myers Jr., Indiana's health commissioner; Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of nursing at Vanderbilt University, whose husband is executive finance cochairman for Vice President Bush's presidential campaign; John J. Creedon, chief executive officer of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Dr. William P. Walsh, cofounder of the hospital ship Project Hope, and retired admiral James D. Watkins, former chief of naval operations.

Other than Myers, who is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and a respected public health official who supports AIDS education in the public schools, the views of other panelists are not well known.

Among AIDS activists, Metropolitan Life is regarded as supportive of AIDS education campaigns. In March Walsh chaired a two-day conference on the impact of AIDS on the health care system sponsored by Project Hope. Some congressional sources say they believe Watkins was chosen partly because the White House supports the military's AIDS testing program.

Myers said he is unfamiliar with the views of most of his fellow panelists but hopes the group won't get "bogged down on fringe issues" such as casual contact or mosquito transmission. "If we do, we won't get the job done," he said.