Former Maryland governor wants public registry for people with AIDS

Wednesday, October 13th 2004, 8:27 pm
By: News On 6

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ The state should establish a public registry for people with AIDS to help stop its spread because ``other methods of prevention aren't working,'' Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said Wednesday.

``People should know if they are around people with AIDS,'' said Schaefer, a former governor and mayor of Baltimore. ``I feel it's absolutely necessary that a registry be set up. It (AIDS) is an epidemic in Africa and it's an epidemic here.''

Schaefer said he's not being critical of people with AIDS: ``I feel very sorry for them. They are going to die.''

The comptroller, who proposed a similar registry when he was governor, raised the issue last week at a meeting of the state Board of Public Works.

The proposal was blasted by AIDS support groups and fellow Democrats.

Joe Berg, communications director for Moveable Feast, an organization that helps feed AIDS patients, said a registry ``would open the door to discrimination against people with this disease,'' and discourage others from being tested.

``The best way to fight AIDS is to have people get tested,'' he said, adding that fear of public exposure would work to increase the prevalence of AIDS and ``undo 25 years of very hard work.''

Isiah Leggett, chairman of the state Democratic Party, called Schaefer's proposal ``quite insensitive.''

``I would hope he would retract the statements,'' he said.

Schaefer shrugged off the criticism, however, saying he's just giving voice to what other people believe but are afraid to say.

``People think I have some ulterior motive. I don't. Millions are dying,'' he said.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich did not respond to Schaefer's comments at last week's meeting, and his spokeswoman, Shareese DeLeaver, said Wednesday he would have no comment.