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JUDY SWEETLAND OF People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called “ridiculous” the statement by Steve Michael that PETA members put the life of a lab rat above the lives of those with AIDS (The Mail, 7/14). Much as Sweetland tried to finesse the issue, PETA’s position on the use of animals for medical purposes is notoriously clear. PETA’s national director, Ingrid Newkirk, has said that even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, “we’d be against it.” In other words: Don’t use animals, no matter how many people die. With 8,000 people becoming infected with HIV every day, it is small wonder that activists such as Michael are angry.

Sweetland claims that “many doctors and scientists” think that using animals in AIDS research is slowing progress toward a cure. In reality, AIDS researchers are virtually unanimous in their belief that animal research is indispensable in finding an AIDS cure or vaccine. The doctors and scientists Sweetland refers to are a handful of anti-vivisectionists whose overriding concern is animal rights, not human rights.

President, Foundation for Biomedical Research, Downtown