Council Seeks Inquiry on Company’s Certification Plan
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The City Council has asked for an investigation of a company that plans to issue identity cards certifying that people are free of the deadly disease AIDS.
The company, called the National Association for AIDS Awareness, planned to open today in West Los Angeles the first of what it hopes will be a chain of AIDS testing centers.
For a fee of about $100, it plans to test people for the presence of AIDS antibodies, then issue identification cards for those who are free of them.
The presence of antibodies indicates that a person has been exposed to the virus, but it is believed only about 10 percent of those exposed develop the disease.
Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky sponsored the City Council motion, passed unanimously Friday, that asked federal, state and local officials to investigate the company.
″This, to me, smacks of one of these opportunistic things, and this is troubling to me,″ Yaroslavsky said.
″It is the most base kind of fraudulent activity,″ said Councilman Joel Wachs.
Company spokeswoman Judi Bloom said the firm is ″dedicated to stopping the spread of the AIDS virus″ and hopes to contribute to that by counseling clients about safe sexual practices.
″We’re not saying it is (foolproof),″ she said. ″But it’s better than nothing, and what alternative do we have right now?″
The identity cards to be issued to customers who test negative for the AIDS antibody will include the client’s photograph, a signature, an expiration date, the words National Association for AIDS Awareness and the letters ″OK.″
AIDS cripples the body’s immune system, leaving the victim vulnerable to infections and other diseases, including cancers.
The disease is most likely to strike homosexuals, abusers of injectable drugs and hemophiliacs. It apparently can be spread by sexual contact, contaminated needles and blood transfusions, but not by casual contact.
As of Jan. 16, AIDS had struck 16,548 people in the United States and claimed 8,361 lives since reporting began in 1981, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.