CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ Three prostitutes working in legal brothels have been diagnosed as being exposed to the AIDS virus, state Health Division Administrator Larry Matheis says.

Matheis said each prostitute was dismissed from her job after testing positive on two different tests for the AIDS virus.

The tests revealed the prostitutes carry antibodies to the AIDS virus. Presence of the antibodies isn't evidence a person has AIDS but that he or she has been exposed to the virus.

So far in Nevada, 53 people have been known to suffer from AIDS, including 25 who died. Of the AIDS sufferers, 47 have been homosexuals.

The brothel prostitutes are the first known to carry the AIDS virus since the Board of Health ruled last March that all prostitutes in Nevada's 36 brothels must submit to periodic tests as a condition of their employment. The tests are given once a week.

Matheis declined on Monday to name the brothels where the prostitutes worked.

Under state law, Nevada counties have the option of legalizing prostitution, and several have done so. However, prostitution is banned in Clark and Washoe counties, encompassing Las Vegas and Reno, and in Douglas County and Carson City.