AIDS and Religion

Meg Bryant's article, "The New AIDS Ministries: Local Churches and Synagogues Take Steps to Help" {Aug. 4} illustrates, possibly without her realizing it, the old saying: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

The article summarizes the efforts of local churches and synagogues to minister to AIDS patients. These efforts are very commendable. She also says that churches "have been forced to reevaluate longstanding moral codes regarding what is ethically desirable in human sexuality." I doubt these reevaluations have contributed anything toward AIDS prevention.

One paragraph in the article says that one group that has remained largely untouched by AIDS is the Moslem community. I submit that if the Moslem community is largely AIDS-free, then it must be doing something better than the other churches are doing. As the article explains, the Moslem community's freedom from AIDS is due, according to the director of the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue, to its "strong focus on prayer, family, and premarital abstinence." Notice he did not include an emphasis on condom use, a so-called "safe sex" technique, or acceptance of "alternative sexual life styles." Diane Lee Silver Spring

I have been trying to think of simple solutions to such a complex challenge. I would like to propose that every church, synagogue and mosque in the United States adopt four to six AIDS patients. Each congregation could provide a house for the hospice care of its adoptees. Agreements could be worked out with insurance companies and with state and federal program administrators to cover medical costs, which would be far less expensive than hospitalization.

The AIDS crisis will affect all of us. Far better that we actively meet its challenge than that we wait until it destroys us physically, financially and spiritually. Our humanity is being tested. Religions have always tried to teach love and compassion. Lately, the decay of the religious structures has distressed us all. Now is the time for their renewal -- as concrete examples of humane action and concern for the well-being of all people. Frances L. Pope San Diego

As a lifelong Catholic who remembers when no one gave any kind of approval to homosexual activity, I feel it is important to say that when we have a deadly disease carried chiefly by homosexual men, common sense dictates that we search the root cause in an effort to halt the further spread of this disease.

On the one hand we have virtually everyone in agreement that something like two thirds to three quarters of those suffering from AIDS are homosexuals, while on the other hand we have virtually everyone in the media pretending there is no connection between the homosexual life style and death from AIDS. It is easily the most convoluted approach to any serious problem I have ever witnessed.

In closing, may I add that it strikes me as strange indeed that a headline on an article about ministering to AIDS victims makes no mention of the real aspect of ministering by a host of churches. Churches are not simply clinics or counseling centers; they are supposed to be sources for receiving spiritual light and guidance. Arla J. Tracz Falls Church

Recent articles about AZT drug therapy for AIDS suggests the need for an increased supply of blood.

Encouraging people to give blood in memory of deceased loved ones would be one way to generate more donations.

The gift, while providing a meaningful remembrance of a relative or friend, would also benefit the living. Phyllis Bogen Bethesda

Support in Crohn's Disease

Although Deborah Schwartz {Lifeline, Aug. 4} has not had surgery for her Crohn's disease, others, particularly those with ulcerative colitis, have had surgery and have found an improved quality of life. I am one of those people. For me, sickness had become a way life that was my "normal." I knew it was time to change. Luckily, surgery can take care of ulcerative colitis.

The National Foundation for Ileitis and Colitis and the United Ostomy Association (an "ostomy" results from the surgery) work together to provide support and caring for those with inflammatory bowel disease, those trying to decide about surgery, and those who have it and become ostomates. Locally, the Metro Washington Chapter of UOA (541-6019) is the self-help group whose members talk to patients and their families before and after surgery and provides information to the public and health care professionals on ostomics.

Whatever the disease and whatever the choice, no one need feel alone. Those who have gone before are ready to reach out and offer a helping hand. Ruth Salinger Bethesda

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