The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has scored a near miss on society: the virus could have wiped out New York City as a functioning urban capital if it had been transmissible by the respiratory route. As it is, the problem is bad enough. A single exposure to an infected individual through sexual contact or shared injection equipment can transmit a lethal infection. While the rather special circumstances of transmission may be reassuring to individuals not knowingly involved in risk behavior, the disease can reach innocent victims (sexual partners, babies, recipients of transfusions) and, in any event, will strain the capacity of the health care system during coming years. The Department of Health, New York City, projects more than 40 000 new infections during the next 5 years and a continued rise in incidence after that if present trends continue.
Of course, new and better medicines for treatment of the