A special task force of the American College Health Association recommended last week to college and university presidents that students with AIDS or AIDS-related viruses be allowed to continue to attend classes and in some cases live in dormitories with other students.
In a letter mailed to the administrators Friday, the task force said that colleges and universities should not disqualify students with acquired immune deficiency syndrome from being admitted and recommended that "institutions not adopt blanket policies concerning students with AIDS or AIDS-related conditions."
"Although most AIDS cases have been discovered in big cities, there's an understanding that college towns are the next tier where the disease is likely to spread," Dr. richard P. Keeling, chairman of the task force and director of student health services at the University of Virginia, told the Associated Press.
The task force was created to help iniversities and colleges handle an increasing number of students with AIDS on college campuses. So far, only one case of a student with AIDS has become public in area schools. That student voluntarily left the University of Virginia earlier this fall.
The task force said in the letter that the AIDS epidemic "raises issues of liability that are of great concern to college and university administrators." With limited medical knowledge avaialable about the disease, universities and colleges should maintain flexible policies and respon on a case-by-case basis in dealing with students with AIDS, according to the group.
The letter said the task force does not favor policies requiring students to answer questions about AIDS and said institutions should not require screening or testing of students or employes with AIDS. "Current knowledge indicated that students or employes with AIDS or related viruses do not pose a health risk to other students or employes in an academic setting," the report said.
Students should be allowed to attend classes as long as they are physically able to, the report said, adding that there is no medical justiification for restricting students from many campus activities.
the task force suggested there is no medical evidence showing that students with AIDS pose a risk in dormitories. "Those making . . . decisions [about student housing] should keep in mind the fact that AIDS is a condition present in an individual, not one that inhabits a building," the task force said.
However, the report noted that a student with AIDS could be endangered if exposed to others with contagious diseases such as measles or chicken pox. In such cases, university officials might consider assigning a student with AIDS to a private room, the report said.