Edited by W.A. "John" Johnson

In the October 1987 First AIDS report (Box 2396, Vancouver, WA 98558, $69), there appear excerpts from a publication of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It's titledRecommendations for Prevention of HIV Transmission in Health-Care Settings, and was published 8/21/87. The booklet recommended infection-control procedures and addressed specific practices in health-care and related fields.

All that follows is from First AIDS Report:

Under the subheading "Precautions for Laboratories," the CDC says "Blood and other body fluids from all patients should be considered infective." And that "laboratory work surfaces should be decontaminated with an appropriate chemical germicide after spill of blood or other body fluids..."

We don't want to belabor the point, but over and over again throughout the entirety of the booklet you find this very cautious language. Although the AIDS virus is considered to be primarily a blood borne virus, it has been found in all other body fluids: tears, sweat, saliva, urine, semen, mucous, etc. It has also been found in human feces. Therefore, the CDC is telling health-care professionals to be extremely careful with body fluids as well as blood. This only makes sense.

Now, here's the kicker: from the Surgeon General's Report on down, the literature that is going out for public consumption says something quite different. You can look just about anywhere and the official word coming down to us can be summed up, in effect, by saying that you absolutely, positively, cannot get AIDS from toilet seats.

What almost goes without saying is that toilet seats often have body fluids on them. All kinds of body fluids: urine, saliva, sweat, sometimes blood and sometimes semen. And don't forget human feces.

This has caused us to come to a rather astounding conclusion. See if you can follow our logic:

If these body fluids are found on hard surfaces in a health-care environment, then it is recommended that something just short of a blowtorch be used to disinfect the surface in order to prevent the possible transmission of the AIDS virus.

However, if these same body fluids are found on a particular kind of hard surface known as a toilet seat, then there is no need to worry about the possible transmission of the AIDS virus. So here's the inescapable conclusion: toilet seats must have some sort of medical, almost magical quality. Evidently, they somehow have the capacity to kill all sorts of disease-causing viruses.

Hopefully, we've made our point. We think that we've adequately demonstrated that our US Public Health Service has been talking out of both sides of its mouth.

We're NOT saying you can, in fact, get AIDS from toilet seats. All we're saying is that it seems just a little inconsistent to treat the matter in such a commendable, sober, cautious way when it comes to the health-care setting and then, when it comes to the general public, to treat the matter as though there were absolutely no potential dangers at all. Why is it that the general public is handled in such a different matter?