Don’t panic over AIDS

Sun-Herald, 3 July 1983:

Probably fewer than 20 men in NSW are suffering from the mystery disease AIDS, but large sections of the community have been seized by an epidemic of fear.

The invisible killer, which is responsible for 644 deaths in America and 122 cases in 17 other countries, has sparked a flood of wild rumours in Sydney.

Although it is not spread by routine contact or respiration, stories have spread that it is unsafe to drink coffee in any of the bars in Sydney’s gay quarter and that the virus can be spread through the sweat of a handshake.

One Lismore radio station telephoned a Sydney medical expert on the subject after two women had alarmed the town by claiming that AIDS could be spread by mosquito bites.

So strong is the fear of AIDS that at present no hospitals will analyse blood from potential victims because of a ban by staff. […]

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