48 / CHRONICLESnturn, and in the brain were added tonthe growing list of AIDS-related complications.nThe blood banking industry comesnunder heavy fire from Shilts, and deservedlynso. Evidence had accumulatednby late 1981, indicating that AIDSnwas a blood-borne infection that couldnbe transmitted through blood transfusions.nIn 1982 the CDC reported casesnof hemophiliacs infected with AIDSnvia contaminated clotting factor. Yet,nthe American Association of BloodnBanks joined with homosexual rightsngroups in denouncing claims ofntransfusion-related AIDS and appealsnmade by hemophiliacs that homosexualsnbe discouraged from donatingnblood. Before the actual AIDS virusnwas discovered, scientists at the CDCnrecognized that nearly 90 percent ofnthose infected with AIDS also showednsigns of hepatitis B. They recommendednthat blood banks test blood for tracesnof past hepatitis infection — a proposalnthat was flatly rejected by the bloodnindustry. Shilts reveals that at leastn12,000 Americans were infected withnAIDS acquired from transfusionsn”largely administered after the CDCnhad futilely begged the blood industrynfor action to prevent spread of thendisease.”nOnce the HIV (Human ImmunodeficiencynVirus) was identified and anneffective blood test became available,nthe Lambda Legal Defense Fund, anhomosexual rights organization, threatenednto go to court to block release ofnthe test. Here was a test that could saventhe lives of the uninfected—includingnthe lives of uninfected homosexuals —nyet homosexual activists worked ceaselesslynto prevent its use. As the authornobserves, failure to be tested “meantnyou might be carrying a lethal virus,nwhich you could give to others . . .nThere was also the broader publicnhealth question of how you can controlna disease if you decline to find out whonis infected.”nShilts ends his review in mid-198 5.nBy then the agent causing AIDS hadnbeen isolated, testing of the bloodnsupply had finally commenced, and,nwith the death of actor Rock Hudson,nAIDS had become a national issue.nShilts chides the Reagan administrationnfor not responding sooner to a healthncrisis that was largely confined to homosexualsnand intravenous drug users.nGiven that many, perhaps most, sexuallynactive homosexuals were alreadyninfected with AIDS before the diseasenwas discovered, it is difficult to see whatnReagan or anyone else could havendone to save their lives. KonstantinnBerlandt, a homosexual activist fromnSan Francisco, expressed the attitudenof Gay Liberationists when he claimednthat it is “society’s responsibility to findnthe medical technology to prevent allnsexually transmitted diseases, rathernthan the gay community’s responsibilitynto keep sexuality in line with whatnmedical technology can cure.”nShilts concedes that formulation ofnAIDS policy has “never been animatednby rational forces.” He goes so far as toncite, with approval, a Danish AIDSnspecialist. Dr. lb Bygbjerg, who despairednthat, “Gay radicals are holdingnpublic policy hostage to their politics.nWe need to stop this disease, and we’rennot being allowed to.” In many respects.nAnd the Band Played On is tonthe development of the AIDS epidemicnwhat The Valachi Papers was to thenMafia: a record that only an insiderncould have written.nIt has become increasingly clear thatnit is in the self-interest of the public tontake whatever measures are necessarynto control AIDS. Recent scientific discoveriesnoffer little assurance that this isnanything but a serious medical problem.nAIDS is a dynamic disease. Thenretrovirus that apparently causes it,nHIV, mutates at a much higher ratenthan any previously encountered.nWithin the lifetime of an AIDS patient,nthe original strain of virus thatnstarted the infection can mutate intonseveral new strains, all of which continuento proliferate. And the strains arenoften different enough that were anvaccine effective against one strain, itnwould fail to protect against another. Anscientist at the University of Coloradonmedical research center in Denvernconfided to this author that many innthe field are convinced that a vaccinenfor AIDS is a “theoretical impossibility.”nGiven that HIV, like all othernviruses and retroviruses, is not an independentnlife form but a piece of geneticnmaterial that becomes a part of anninfected cell, researchers at the Centernof Molecular Biology in Madrid andnthe Pasteur Institute of Paris suggestnthat any vaccine that might protectnnnsomeone from acquiring AIDS wouldndestroy the person’s immune system,nthus causing a disease similar to AIDS.nA team of scientists from Norway,nSweden, and West Germany have establishednthat a person does not need ancut, wound, rash or other abrasion ofnthe skin to acquire AIDS, since HIVnhas been found to thrive in thenLangerhans cells, which are present innskin and mucous membranes. Langerhansncells are relatively easy to infectnand these in-vitro infected cells can innturn infect other cells.nThe spring issue of the quarterlynAIDS Research and Human Retrovirusesnreported that people infectednwith AIDS become more infectiousnas time passes, increasing the risk tonothers.nStrange as it may seem, as VernonnMark of Harvard Medical Schoolnpoints out, we still do not know hownrapidly AIDS is spreading or hownmany are currently infected. This isnbecause federal health officials have yetnto conduct a cross-sectional analysis tondiscover the extent and intensity ofnAIDS infection. Mark is foremostnamong those calling for a series ofnepidemiological studies, utilizing populationnsample statistics, to determinenthe degree of HIV infection amongnvarious demographic segments of ournsociety. (The oft-repeated figure ofnone to 1.5 million AIDS carriers in thenU.S. is a 1986 CDC guestimate. Inn1985, a report in The New EnglandnJournal of Medicine estimated thatn1,765,000 were already infected. Morenrecently, the CDC suggested that fornevery case of AIDS, there are 10 casesnof ARC [AIDS Related Complex, anhost of symptoms including weightnloss, fever, night sweats, fatigue, persistentndiarrhea, that are themselves oftennfatal or are precursors to full-blownnAIDS] and for every case of ARCnthere are 10 asymptomatic carriers.nWith 59,287 official cases of AIDSnreported in the CDC’s AIDS WeeklynSurveillance Report for April II,n1988, this would give the U.S.n583,550 cases of ARC and a total ofnsome 5,835,550 actual AIDS carriers.)nNot only do we not know how manynpeople are currently infected, but “civilnrights” protection has been granted toncarriers, so that, in many states andnmunicipalities, even doctors performingnsurgery on the AIDS-infected aren