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AIDS and Illegal Drugs

Paralleling the spread of the virus inducing AIDS is the sudden explosion in the use of crack cocain. Crack, a smokable form of cocaine, was first noted in three U.S. cities in 1981-two of them in Southern California. But it was not until 1986 that crack became the "fast food" of the illegal drug market.

It may now be hard to believe, but in 1980 no one had heard of AIDS. It was first recognized and defined in 1981. Yet today few countries are free from AIDS. World Health Organization officials warn that the officially reported cases probably number fewer than half the true total.

But there are other forms of drugs on the market, some requiring a needle to convey a drug directly into the bloodstream. Who would have thought, in 1980, that the long-known use of the needle to administer drugs would become a political issue because of AIDS?

The HIV virus that causes AIDS can be transmitted from one person to another through contaminated blood on needles. Should, therefore, drug addicts be provided clean needles to prevent the spread of AIDS?

And what about the parallel political issue unforeseen in 1980: Should government funds be used to distribute literature on "safe sex" or to distribute condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS among homosexuals and bisexuals and at-risk heterosexuals?

Questions such as these were never dreamed of in 1980. Yet today they have become major social and political and moral issues. Herpes deflated the sexual revolution among heterosexuals, but are we willing to use the moral vaccine of chastity against AIDS?

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