DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading your article stating that the AIDS virus cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes. Needless to say, I was relieved, as I live in Minnesota, where the mosquito is sometimes jokingly referred to as our state bird. However, you did not cite the source of your information. I would also like to know how your experts arrived at their conclusions. - RELIEVED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR RELIEVED: My source is Dr. Merv Silverman, president and spokesperson for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. His conclusion was based on current data compiled by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.Studies of more than 100,000 infected individuals clearly show that insects are NOT a problem.
In Africa, those infected with the AIDS virus are in two age groups: (1) from birth to 5 years old, and (2) from 15 to 65 years old. Obviously, mosquitoes do not abstain from biting people who are between 5 and 15 years old.
The first group is infected before birth, and the second through sexual activities, intravenous drug use or blood transfusions.
"In short," says Dr. Silverman, "not one of the over 250,000 cases of AIDS worldwide has been attributed to the bite of insects. If they were a factor in the spread of this disease, tens of millions worldwide and many millions in the United States alone would have AIDS today."
DEAR ABBY: I recently went to a local medical clinic for a routine physical checkup. I was given an examining physician I had never seen before.
I have carried a scar on the inside of my left wrist for 30 years and no doctor has ever questioned me about it. Then all of a sudden this doctor asked, "What's this?"
When I told him I had had a ganglion tumor removed many years ago, he said, "Oh, I thought perhaps you might have tried to take your life some years ago."
I was very indignant and said, "I beg your pardon, Doctor, but I am 56 years old, have been examined by many doctors, and never has any doctor suggested such a thing!"
He replied, "Well, we doctors have to be suspicious of every clue we come across."
I then said, "Excuse me, Doctor. This is not a `clue' to anything, and I resent the insinuation."
He then proceeded to examine my other arm and noticed a faint mark on my wrist from my watchband. "Look," he said, "Here's another one - are you sure you never attempted suicide?"
Abby, a doctor should be able to tell the difference between a mark caused by a tight watchband and a botched suicide attempt. In any case, I considered his attitude to be unprofessional and cavalier, and I am going to report him to the head of the clinic.
I told a friend about this, and she said perhaps the doctor was trying to be humorous. What are your thoughts? - NO NAME OR CITY, PLEASE
DEAR NO NAME: Humor is inappropriate during a physical examination. But before you report this doctor, be aware that competent physicians routinely record all scars, their locations and causes, so don't fault yours for questioning you. P.S. I think your doctor could use a tact transfusion.