Even with today's AIDS threat, Salt Lake City-County Health Director Harry Gibbons doesn't believe Utah should again require blood tests for couples getting married.
"No, no, a thousand times no," Gibbons said, relating his standard reply when asked if there should be an AIDS test to get a marriage license.The physician believes that with the low incidence of AIDS in the Utah population, an AIDS test to obtain a marriage license would do more harm than good.
There is a relatively high percentage of false positives with the inexpensive AIDS test. "It's good, but it's not that good," he said of the test.
A positive test result would require a prospective newlywed to have more sophisticated, more expensive tests. The cost would run into hundreds of dollars, and in the meantime lives would be devastated, the physician said.
It was Gibbons who pushed for Utah to drop blood tests for marrying couples. The purpose of the test was to detect syphilis. By 1981, when the requirement was eliminated, probably 1 million individuals had been tested over the years. But in all of that time only two individuals with syphilis had been detected, Gibbons said.