To the editors:

Many thanks for Jon Cohen’s fine report on “The Search for an AIDS Vaccine” [January 12]. For four years I have parented one of Chicago’s earliest birth-infected HIV children. And, like other parents of these children, I read far and wide for word of developments in HIV drugs and vaccines.

While I have been aware that Jonas Salk was at work on some kind of vaccine, Cohen’s feature has provided me with fresh information and hope which I have not seen elsewhere–even in the presumably thorough homosexual press.

In this same Reader issue, let me applaud also JoAnn Gutin’s presentation on the two books dealing with global environmental suicide. I had recently encountered The End of Nature when it was excerpted in The New Yorker.

Few of us are ever going to be inconvenienced by the retro-virus known as HIV. Every last one of us, however, has already been affected by the first stage consequences of past (retro) and continuing abuses of the ecosystem.

The environment, Nature’s immune system as it were, is simply losing–or has lost–its ability to recover from the promiscuous, infected embrace of modern mankind.

And by the time Nature’s terminal disease earns for itself the political status of an acronym; the crisis status of front-page and TV talk show attention; the hot-air status of abortion, the national debt, and what’s wrong with the Chicago Bears . . . by that time it will have long since been too late. No Jonas Salk or magic bullet is remotely possible when the patient on the gurney is Nature.

One need only follow the familiar background of “scarce chimpanzees” in the AIDS vaccine story to appreciate how so much more than metaphorically related the two articles are.

Anyone want to beat the rush and share a ride now to a different planet?