RELATED ITEMS

On the Web
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention allows people to search the databases of the National AIDS Clearinghouse or order publications online.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control provides race, gender and age breakdowns of 1996 AIDS cases.

The phone number of the National AIDS hotline is 1-800-342-AIDS.

Students at Eastchester Middle School in Eastchester, N.Y., have made their own AIDS education handbook.

Maryland's AIDS effort is documented in the quarterly state publication, HIV Times.

From the AP
Related articles from the Associated Press are available online.


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Stopping the Virus

The condom drawer
With local education efforts varying so much, residents like DiAna DiAna often get into the act. At her Columbia, S.C., hair salon candy sales pay for the condoms she gives away to customers. By Jamie Franics for The Washington Post
The Series

Part 1: Hope and Disappointment

Part 2: On the Front Line

Part 3: Stopping the Virus

Part 4: The Hunt for a Vaccine

Part 5: Third World Despair

Today's Articles

Prevention Fractures Into Local Struggles

Area's Approaches Reflect Diverse Values


Prevention Fractures Into Local Struggles

By Susan Okie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 1997;
Page A01

FLORENCE, S.C. — Tameka Sauls was only about 14 when an adult cousin began losing weight and eventually died. She didn't learn the reason until long afterward.

"I didn't know she died from AIDS 'til, like, down the line," said Sauls. "Me and my mother were talking about stuff and it just came up. I was shocked."

As a student at South Florence High School, Sauls had taken the health education course that South Carolina public schools are legally required to provide. But, she said, the class never taught her about AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. "It wasn't really sex education," recalled Sauls, now 18 and raising a 22-month-old son. "It was more like body development and differences between men and women."

This year, after two more relatives had died of complications from AIDS, Sauls enrolled in a federally funded training course as an HIV educator at a local adult education center. Smart and articulate, she's the kind of person other teenagers might listen to — and her teacher is urging her to go on a local radio program to answer questions about AIDS. But Sauls is scared. She's afraideverybody will think she's infected with the virus. "They would say it just to talk," she said.

In some ways, what Sauls knew about AIDS — and what she didn't — illustrates the state of the nation's attempts to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus. Aggressive HIV prevention efforts proposed in the early years of the epidemic — such as widespread condom distribution, clean-needle giveaways to drug addicts and frank sex education in schools — triggered intense controversy and enormous political opposition in many more conservative parts of the country. Moreover, some public health experts argued that money spent on national media campaigns could be more effective if focused on those at greatest risk of contracting the virus. So three years ago, the federal government revamped the country's prevention strategy, abandoning a single national effort in favor of locally tailored efforts that it hoped would be both more acceptable and more effective.

Gone are the mass mailings and national media campaigns of the 1980s. The last crop of government-sponsored television commercials, produced in 1995 to promote condom use, are rarely shown anymore. The national AIDS hot line is running, but it gets only about 3,000 calls a day, compared with the peak of 189,251 on a single day in 1992, the day after a network television special on AIDS sufferer Alison Gertz.

Article Continues

© 1997 The Washington Post Company

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