To the editors:

As a doctor who cares for people with AIDS, my primary reaction to the criticism of the AIDS awareness posters placed on CTA buses and at elevated train stations is a combination of disgust, anger, sadness and disappointment [Hot Type, August 17].

After nearly a decade of seeing people suffer from, and eventually die from, the effects of AIDS, one would hope that the primary concern of our government officials and civic leaders would center around three objectives: 1) the fight for dollars to educate the public and prevent the spread of the HIV virus–including teenagers who represent an emerging risk group; 2) the push for new and better drugs and methods of treatment; and 3) compassion, understanding and more resources for people living with AIDS.

Instead of the current debate focusing on whether these posters are an effective tool for fighting AIDS, certain public officials and community leaders have decided to pander to the bigoted, homophobic element in our city. These self-appointed guardians of public morals criticize the AIDS awareness posters–which show two same-sex couples and one opposite-sex couple–as “immoral” and as “promoting the homosexual lifestyle.”

The immorality that I see in this controversy is two-fold: a very open and ugly form of bigotry toward lesbians and gay men; and appalling indifference to a serious health crisis. I would hope that all responsible and open-minded leaders of our city will speak up for what they believe is right and demand that the debate over these AIDS awareness posters be brought back to where it belongs: preventing the spread of HIV and helping our citizens and neighbors who are living with AIDS!

Dr. Ron Sable, M.D.

Co-founder, Sable-Sherer AIDS Clinic

Cook County Hospital