WASHINGTON'S WETA is airing a one-hour special on AIDS this week. Moderator Judy Woodruff makes this point: "There's no getting away from it. Pick up a newspaper, any day, there'll be a story about it. Turn on the television, the sitcom characters are talking about it. And in our own lives, sometimes, people we know of are dying of it. All this talk of AIDS is scary. We get confused when one piece of information contradicts another." So why do another program?
"AIDS: Changing the Rules" is not just another program. It's an exceptionally good presentation, artfully directed at heterosexual adults and addressing in explicit language the full range of questions and myths about AIDS. A film, narrated by Ron Reagan (the son), fashion model Beverly Johnson and singer-actor Rube'n Blades, begins with Mr. Reagan asking, "If you're not gay, and you're not an IV drug user, why should you watch a movie about AIDS? Why should you care?"
While careful not to overdramatize the threat, he notes that "the rules that run all our sexual lives have changed. . . . We'll tell you what the doctors know for sure, and what they're still unclear about." What ensues is no PG-family-hour entertainment, but some sad stories of men, women and children; some creative demonstrations of precautions people should know about; a dramatization exploring the negative feelings of some men and women about the use of condoms; and panel discussions of what is known and not known for certain about the transmission, treatment and types of victims of AIDS.
Channel 26 will broadcast the program again tonight at 11 p.m. and on Friday at 2 p.m. Orders for cassettes for group showings also are being taken. Reporter Woodruff, whose incisive news coverage has illuminated countless topics over the years, says "there is so much misinformation about AIDS that I view any program that seeks to get out the facts, as this one does in such a compelling fashion, as a vital public service."