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HOW ODD THAT A letter from the Foundation for Biomedical Research could be so plain wrong on the AIDS/animal testing issue (The Mail, 7/28). Perhaps it’s because the Foundation for Biomedical Research, despite its noble-sounding name, is not a medical research group at all, but merely an industry-funded spin doctor devoted to fighting the animal rights movement.

The animal breeders, dealers, and medical companies who make a fat profit from gruesome animal tests don’t want you to know that although years have been spent trying to develop an animal “model” of AIDS, no animal infected with HIV has ever developed AIDS as humans do. Furthermore, the isolation and stressful living conditions of the animals used in this type of research can impair the animal’s immunity, the very aspect which is supposedly being studied.

Progress in understanding AIDS has come not from animal research but from clinical, epidemiological, and in vitro studies. Even assuming that an animal model of AIDS may someday be developed, testing vaccines for the AIDS virus on animals stands little chance of proving that these drugs will be effective or even safe for humans. It is imperative that we stop pouring millions of dollars into infecting and killing animals and start putting the money into modern methodologies and prevention. Reliance on animal experiments to find cures for these diseases is motivated by profit, not compassion, and is the real impediment to progress.

Coordinator, PETA’s Gay and Lesbian Animal Rights Caucus, Friendship Heights