Scientists have determined that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is not transmitted through casual contact with a person carrying the AIDS virus, yet persons who have AIDS are often treated as outcasts. Under what terms would you be willing to accept a new classmate who had AIDS?
I feel I would try to accept a new classmate who has AIDS the best I could, but I would always be thinking, in the back of my mind, that this person has a disease which kills.
Thinking this would most likely make me always want to keep my distance from this person. This attitude is probably what a lot of AIDS carriers face daily.
There's still an inner fear of AIDS that I have. Let's face it, no one wants to die of AIDS and there's no cure. NYKEETA PEEL Laurel
The word AIDS has been a dreadful word. Society tends to look down on and never really display compassion for the helpless victims.
Would I accept an AIDS patient in my classroom? It's a difficult question to answer. I would tell anyone that they should accept and not discriminate against an AIDS carrier. But as for me, no.
Scientists are not sure what the future holds and the disease may just take longer to show up in "casual contact" cases. I feel commiseration for the AIDS victims who acquired the disease through no fault of their own, but for those who knew the risks they took, I'm sorry.
I am forced to discriminate for the survival of what the future promises me; the precious gift of life. KIMBERLY L. BOLLING Largo
Students who have the AIDS virus are the same as any other students, except that they are facing the death penalty. They feel the same need to be accepted as any other teenager.
Nobody has AIDS by choice, and it has been scientifically proven that AIDS cannot be transmitted through casual contact. How many students have anything but casual contact with the other kids in their school, with the exception of boyfriends and girlfriends?
There should be no conditions in accepting a student with AIDS in the classroom. They have the same constitutional right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" as we do. We don't have the right to take that from them because of unfounded fears. DEB LAUNT Central
It is difficult to predict the terms under which anyone would accept a new classmate with AIDS. When confronted with the situation, those terms could change.
Although studies show the disease to be non-communicable through casual contact, I don't believe I would want the person too near me. A study, after all, is just a study, and there is always the possibility of error. I value my life too much to put it at unnecessary risk, even if this risk were the tiniest one.
I also wouldn't want to become close friends with the person, knowing he or she is going to die, and knowing the blow that death would deal me. Basic courtesy would be extended on my part, but most likely nothing more.
These terms are only set through my fear of the unknown -- I have never met anyone with AIDS. But perhaps, when that time comes, I will have more compassion. Only the real confrontation will tell. ALICE CHANG High Point
The AIDS problem is a major one. However, I have enough basic knowledge of it to know that you can't get it from sitting across from someone who has it. To get AIDS you must transmit bodily fluids with someone who has it. This does not take place in any classrooms that I know of.
AIDS is a safer disease to be around than the plagues of the past, and yet some people still cry that their rights would be violated by having a sick person in the same school as they are due to some misbegotten ideas. I wish these people would stop crying about their rights and look to those of other people. MICHAEL HADAWAY JR. Friendly
I believe that if people were properly informed of the real dangers and of the prevention of AIDS, they would allow infected persons to attend school. My school recently took part in a program which presented the facts about AIDS, and it made me understand that people should react to AIDS with sympathy and compassion rather than with fear or hatred.
The AIDS epidemic is not the first disease to have caused societal problems of misunderstanding. In the Middle Ages, lepers were abandoned to the lives of hermits, ringing bells and shouting, "Unclean!" to all who came near.
There is a saying that reads, "History repeats itself." I hope our society will be mature enough to change this and not treat AIDS victims as outcasts, but as the human beings they really are. STEPHEN YODER Queen Anne
I would not accept a new classmate who was known to have AIDS. I know that this is wrong. I know what scientists are saying. I also know that I am scared.
I don't hate people who have AIDS, nor do I hate homosexuals, nor do I feel that people who have AIDS should be outcasts. I do feel, however, that my personal safety and well-being are more important than having high-minded ideas about freedom and equality.
People who have AIDS seem to feel that I owe them the right to my schools, churches, pools, etc. They don't want to take my rights into consideration -- my right to go about my life without a fear of whom I shake hands with, hug and kiss.
I don't care what the scientists say. It might be narrow-minded, but I'm scared. I'm sorry. MARK PIPPINS McNamara
My heart tells me that I should be willing to accept a person with AIDS, but my brain tells me to avoid a person with such an unpredictable and deadly disease. I feel that such a person should be able to continue their education if they so desire.
A reasonable alternative to the classroom would be correspondence school. In this way, people with AIDS would be able to receive an education without the threat to others. I feel, however, that many AIDS sufferers would be against this idea because of the humiliation that comes with segregation.
People with AIDS must come to terms with the fact that they threaten society; not only physically but mentally. I frankly feel they should take what they can get. KOFO MARTINS Oxon Hill
If I had a classmate with AIDS, I'd treat him or her like I treat all the other students. I would walk and talk to them about how they got it, and how they feel about having it. I wouldn't exclude anybody from having friends just because they have an incurable disease.
Everybody deserves a chance to live a normal life without having to hide from people because they're scared of being talked about. Talk is cheap.
If I had AIDS, I would still be having a ball, going to the go-gos, concerts and movies. Who knows when you'll be going through those pearly gates to meet your maker? My mother would probably tell me to be careful, but I don't do anything wrong to ever get a disease, especially an incurable one. JEFF GRAY Tall Oaks
People say that AIDS can't be transmitted through casual contact. If that's the case, I would accept a student in my school who had AIDS. I believe that all persons should be able to get some form of education. I don't think that we should be able to refuse a person who has AIDS into a school.
Look at people who have cancer; it may not be as deadly as AIDS, but it's a disease and people get it. Cancer victims don't get put out of school.
AIDS victims should be treated the best a human can. If I had a friend who had the disease, I would treat him/her just like anyone else (I would just be a little careful with the way we have contact).
I would accept a student who has AIDS in my school. ANDRE' GATLING Potomac
Students with AIDS should not be rejected by our school system. Some of my peers may disagree with my belief, but that is their right.
I fully understand the ways you can contract AIDS and casual contact is not one of them. I would befriend my new classmate instead of treating this person like an outcast. An AIDS sufferer is a human being and should be treated like everyone else. If I contracted AIDS, I would want people to treat me the same way.
The only problem that would upset me greatly is their pain. I couldn't stand to see one of my peers in pain. But even so, I would accept this person for who they are, because if I didn't that would cause me pain. ZINA ROUNTREE Surrattsville
I would not accept a new classmate who has AIDS under any terms. AIDS is a new virus and not much is known about it. Scientists might have determined that AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact; but are they right?
Twenty years ago, a drug was given to stop morning sickness for pregnant women. Now the doctors realize that they were wrong in saying it was safe to use. Millions of people suffer the consequences. The case could be the same with AIDS.
Even if AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact, what are the limits to being "casual"? The virus is found in body fluids. It has even been found in tears.
Personally I do not feel we should take the risk of letting students with AIDS in school. AIDS patients should be kept out of school. Innocent people should not have to risk their lives with a fatal disease. KATHLEEN CULLINS Riverdale Baptist
I don't think it's right to put a student who has AIDS into a class with me. I am not saying this for my sake, but for the other students and even the student with AIDS. If a student with AIDS were in my class, he would probably always be looked down on and teased. I think there would be too much harsh treatment for the student.
I don't think that other students and their parents should have to worry to the point where they either remove their own child from the school or inflict violent acts on the student with AIDS and his family until they leave the school.
I think the government should try to set up schools that would allow students with AIDS and other fatal diseases to attend. I know this wouldn't solve the whole problem, but I think it would be a big step toward settling it. DEVONDA BARNES DuVal "Speak Out" Topic for January 14:
Do people in general (and teenagers in particular) spend too much time watching television? If so, what are the consequences of this?
Responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. Political-style cartoons on the topic are welcome and should be drawn on posterboard. Submissions should include the student's name, school and grade.
Responses should be addressed to: Weekly High School Section The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071 Deadline for responses is: Monday, January 4, 1988.