Scientists have determined that 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 would accept an AIDS patient under the same terms that I would accept a student without AIDS. AIDS is a fatal disease, and I am afraid of catching it, but that doesn't give me the right to treat a person with AIDS like an outcast.
The threat of the disease should make us more health-conscious and more attentive to good hygiene. Schools, like other public places, should rigorously enforce laws providing for sanitary water fountains and rest rooms. When everyone is clean and careful, the risk of contamination -- even from AIDS -- is minimized. ALMETTA HIBLER Roosevelt
It would be scary, but I would be willing to accept a student who had AIDS. It would be scary because I really don't know if the doctors are right that you can't get AIDS from casual contact. If it could proven that you can't, I would not mind having him or her as a classmate.
I know that AIDS can be transmitted only by blood transfusion or sexual contact, but if an accident occured in the classroom and the classmate with AIDS got a cut, he might transfer his AIDS to someone else.
If someone has AIDS, I don't think it should be a problem in school. If everyone knows, they won't have sexual contact with him or her. You can be his or her friend and you won't get AIDS. UNID NUNåEZ MCIP
I would not under any circumstances accept a person with AIDS in my class. I still believe there is a possibility of contracting AIDS through casual contact. If not, how can you account for the undetected cases? How can you trace evidence that a person caught AIDS casual contact? How do scientists know there were no viruses on the sink?
I would not put the person on the spot, so to speak, but I would discreetly edge my way out of his presence. I understand the victim's emotions; he does not like to be an outcast. I respect that; it's normal. But haven't the diseased always been outcast among the human race? A person contaminated with AIDS has no more right in a classroom than a person with chicken pox. Although chicken pox is not fatal, AIDS is! MELODY FLOYD Eastern
I think that the public's ignorance about AIDS is outgrageous. If people would open their eyes and realize that people with AIDS are not the monsters they are made out to be, then maybe the public will come to its senses and accept them.
There is an old saying that you should not judge a person until you have walked a mile in his shoes. The public should take this into consideration when they are condemning their brothers and sisters in Christ. LASHONDA ALDERMAN Holy Spirit
Naturally I am concerned about the people who attend my school; but if a student with AIDS were to come to my school, I don't think there should be any rules, conditions or regulations he should have to follow in order to go here.
AIDS should be treated just like any other deadly disease like cancer or leukemia. If a student were to come here with cancer or another deadly disease, the school system would not treat them any differently and would let them attend school.
Why can't AIDS victims be treated the same? STEPHANIE CROCKETT Ellington Even though scientists have determined that AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact with persons carrying the AIDS virus, it is hard for me to actually feel comfortable around those persons. Considering the fact that this virus is incurable and fatal, I could under no terms accept a new classmate who has AIDS.
I would not be rude or disrespectful; however, at the same time, I would avoid any contact at all. After all, I'm looking out for myself and I'm not willing to take any risks involving this incurable, fatal virus.
This virus is presently taking and has already taken many lives. As far as I am concerned, having any contact with a person who has this virus is taking a risk. If they are not sure how to cure AIDS, how can they be so sure about the way you can catch it?
Treasuring my health as I do, I would be dishonest if I said I would welcome a classmate with this virus. I would rather not deal with this type of challenge. KORIKA WILLIAMS Woodson
AIDS victims are the new minority. As blacks have fought for many years for certain constitutional rights, AIDS victims will be forced to do the same.
It has been proven that AIDS cannot be contracted through casual contact. How many blood transfusions will be made during the course of the school day?
AIDS victims have the right to a free education. I believe they should be treated fairly and equally. Just because they are ill does not mean they are not human. RHEA JOYNER McKinley
If I were attending a school where one of my classmates was an AIDS victim, I would not rebuke her. Perhaps I might be pitying and curious as to how she contracted the disease, but I would not treat that person any differently than I might treat any of my other friends.
Everyone, of course, has their own opinion about this controversial issue, but I don't see the logic behind alienating and rejecting a person solely because they suffer from AIDS -- a disease that could pose no threat to any classmate unless there were intimacy of some kind.
And I furthermore submit that those who contend that children suffering from AIDS shouldn't be able to attend "normal" schools are only a step above bigotry. LETITIA HARRIS All Saints
Our one of our teachers had been very sick over the summer. After a substitute teacher had replaced him for the first couple of weeks of school, an announcement was made in chapel. The announcement came as an incredible shock to the student body and all walked out of the chapel service dumbfounded. Our teacher would soon return to teach; however, he had AIDS.
Every student, and especially those taking biology, had received an impressive education on AIDS: how it could be transmitted, and the course the disease took once in the body. This education greatly reduced the problem of ignorant fear of AIDS.
The major source of hysteria across the nation when people with AIDS try to enter a closed community, like a school, is ignorance. We had almost eliminated the fear and rejection that our teacher might have experienced. Our support and lack of fear strengthened him and he quickly rejoined the school community.
I have participated in an educational film on AIDS with Surgeon General Koop. Such measures to promote factual information on the subject of AIDS will dispell fears across the nation, as they did in my school. People must learn that casual contact to a person with the disease will not transmit the virus. ALDEN HALL St. Albans
I think that students who have AIDS should not be allowed to attend schools. I say this not because I feel I would contract the disease, but because, in order for a student with AIDS to be admitted, the whole school would have to know about him. This would only alienate the person and make things more uncomfortable.
The few (very few) aware people would not be bothered by the student. But the rest, who are quite unaware of how AIDS is transmitted, would make life miserable for the carrier.
I think that all students with AIDS should be put in a special school with others who have the disease so that they have people around them who understand them. Putting them in school with us will only hurt them in the end. ANTONIO PAYNE Coolidge
I wouldn't be willing to accept a new classmate who has AIDS under any terms because tests haven't proven that AIDS cannot be transmitted by casual contact. Doctors know very little about this deadly virus. It would be too risky for other classmates, both medically and psychologically.
I ask myself, "Can AIDS be absorbed through an individual's skin, causing him to contract AIDS?" How can a student bear knowing that his classmate is terminally ill? I think that knowing a classmate is near death with an illness would have the same effect as hearing that a classmate has committed suicide or been killed in some terrible misfortune.
We socialize, study and enjoy many other things in life with our classmates. Can we really cope with a person sick with AIDS in the classroom? JEANETTE HOWARD Wilson
I learned a great deal about the AIDS virus while working on an AIDS research project at Children's Hospital over the summer. After holding test tubes of AIDS-infected blood serum in my well-gloved hands, having a student with AIDS at my school would be no major threat to me. I believe that most people with AIDS are just as afraid of spreading the disease as people are afraid of them.
A lack of education about the AIDS virus is the creator of the fears which cause AIDS victims to become outcasts. I would welcome a student with AIDS at my school. Her presence and eventual demise would be harsh and painful for my fellow classmates. However, from this, a school community would learn the facts about AIDS, and most importantly, learn how to prevent the disease. TERESA WILLIAMS Georgetown Visitation
I would not under any circumstances be willing to accept a person with AIDS as a classmate. I don't think that researchers, doctors or school administrators know enough about the virus to take any chances.
I don't think a school full of children or administrators would be comfortable around an AIDS victim. Even though researchers say we cannot catch the virus by casual contact, it does not erase the fears that people have about AIDS.
I don't think I'm discriminating against people with AIDS, I just think they should have schools, residential areas and an isolated hospital for AIDS victims.
I think public and private school officials would agree that they wouldn't want their child in a school with an AIDS victim. ASAHKI JONES Ballou
"Speak Out" Topic For January 21:
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. 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, Jan. 11.