The article on the rapid spread of HIV among heterosexual women, especially black women was frightening ["The Black Woman's Burden: an Epidemic of HIV," October 13-20]. Education, as pointed out, is the best way to curb the spread of this disease. Unfortunately, the misnomer "safe sex" has no doubt contributed to the epidemic because sex using a condom is not "safe," but merely "safer." When condoms are used properly and are used every time, they reduce the spread of HIV by 80 percent. This means that even with perfect condom use, over time there is a risk of contracting the virus that causes AIDS. When condoms are not properly or not always used, obviously the risk is much higher. The only true "safe sex" is that between two monogamous people. You do your readers a great service and contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS by making this distinction.
Kathleen Fenton, M.D.
Managua , Nicaragua