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April 6, 1994

The Dental AIDS Cases—Murder or an Unsolvable Mystery?

JAMA. 1994;271(13):983. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510370035023

To the Editor.  —In his article1 on the dental AIDS cases, Mr Breo describes Kimberly Bergalis as "an innocent victim" of AIDS. The implication is that there exist other AIDS patients who are guilty victims.In our medical tradition, we do not describe victims of disease as innocent or guilty. We do acknowledge risk behavior that may contribute to disease: unprotected sexual intercourse for AIDS, sun exposure for malignant melanoma, skiing for ankle fractures, superhighway driving for head injuries, high-fat diet for coronary artery disease. People who suffer from these diseases are neither guilty nor innocent. They are patients who do not merit our moral judgments.