In a New York Times letter to the editor (, 5/27), John M. Samuels, administrative director of AIDS Services at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center, says that reactions to the recent case involving an HIV-positive Texas man sentenced to prison for spitting on a police officer shows that “[we] clearly have a long way to go” in combating HIV stigma.

“Many [bloggers] not only agreed with the sentence, but also wished a harsher punishment than 35 years in prison,” Samuels writes. “Some bloggers stated that they wished the homeless man dead, wanted him executed, or would have preferred him to be ‘set on fire.’”

In his letter, Samuels commends the Times for noting that “contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in the transmission of HIV.”