November 13, 1991

The Fragile Coalition: Scientists, Activists, and AIDS

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn

State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn


by Robert M. Wachter, 256 pp, $19.95, ISBN 0-312-05801-2, New York, NY, St Martin's Press, 1991.

JAMA. 1991;266(18):2622-2623. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470180126049

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"Senate AIDS Vote Was Political, Not Medical"—so reads the header for the letters to the editor of the New York Times on August 5, 1991. Reference is made to fines and imprisonment for physicians who fail to notify their patients of their human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status. In the Rochester, NY, Democrat and Chronicle on July 11, 1991, Edward Lewis, MD, president of the Monroe County Medical Society, asks, "Why should this disease be treated differently from others when it poses greater risk to exposed people? Because the disease is being treated as a political issue not a medical one." A similar theme is discussed by David Rothman and Harold Egar in the July 1991 issue of Hospital Practice in their article "AIDS Activism and Ethics."

Activists for persons with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome have thrust the laboratory scientist and patient care provider into the political arena. Their persistence is