AIDS ARTICLE INCORRECT
From: Barbara Hernan
Regional AIDS Educator
Harford, Cecil and Kent counties
An article in the Dec. 15 edition of the Harford County Sun, "Students urge earlier contraceptive instruction," misquoted a comment that I made in response to a question on the prevalence of HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) infectionamong teens in the county.
What should have been printed is as follows: The Harford County Health Department has an average of one newHIV positive case per month for all populations. Statistically, a small percentage of those cases are going to be among teen-agers. We dohave teens in the HIV positive caseload; they tend to be 18 or 19 years of age. There are no teen-agers with AIDS in this county to the knowledge of the health department.
AIDS is the final stage of an immune system breakdown that occurs several years of living with HIV infection. Thus, teen-agers who are exposed to HIV and become infectedwill most likely develop AIDS sometime in their 20s after an eight- to 10-year latency period, during which they are HIV positive and asymptomatic.
Nationwide, the second largest age group with the most AIDS cases and subsequent deaths is the group between 20 to 29 years of age. Most of these individuals were likely infected as teens. Following these national trends and based on some trends in county sexualbehavior among teens, this population is very much at risk for HIV infection in our present day.
The health department does not see all people in the county who are HIV positive and/or have AIDS. Many individuals seek care in larger metropolitan areas and never report to their local health department.
If we were following every individual in the county who was HIV positive in our caseload, then the numbers of HIV positive teens would most likely be higher. If more teen-agers were coming in to our free counseling and testing sites, then we would obviously have larger numbers for HIV infection among teen-agers based on statistical averages. Many people (teens and otherwise) inthis country who are HIV positive have absolutely no idea of their HIV status. It is clear that teen-agers are at risk for HIV infection,which progresses into AIDS and ultimately death. We as a community need to focus prevention and educational efforts in this population inthe home, schools, churches and community in general.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
From: Frank W. Soltis
I have been reading with excitement the efforts of Councilman Philip J. Barker to protect the residents of Harford County from "sexually transmitted diseases."
While it is commendable that he should target adult book stores for his righteous cause, he should look at the broader picture. Certainly one could not disagree with the proposition that fornication is the root cause of "sexually transmitted diseases," and since abstinence doesn't seem to be effective, there is another remedy that he should consider.
Enact legislation that would make condom use mandatory forcopulating couples. This would also apply to bisexual activity. There would be still penalties for violators. Naturally, another committee (chosen by Barker) would . . . develop a method for enforcement. The Sheriff's Department could administer, monitor and enforce Barker'scondom law.
In order to further protect the citizens of the county, the state's attorney, Joseph I. Cassilly, could grant authorization to the Sheriff's Department to set up random condom roadblocks, andanyone entering the county without a condom would be issued one.
Since Barker's past attempts to protect us have transgressed our constitutional protection, it wouldn't be any more of a problem to have unannounced searches of our home or car to enforce this "Barker" condom law. Penalties for violators could include required courses on safesex, and for repeat offenders, institutionalization where they wouldundergo mind altering. If this failed, then a medical procedure would not be too extraneous. Something like the methods used by the Gestapo and the North Koreans.
At this time I would like to volunteer to be a member of Councilman Barker's condom committee
to protect citizens from "sexually transmitted diseases.
THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS
From: Dorothy M. Gibson
I've watched a half-century of Christmas Days come and go. The wonder and awe are still there. When I was a child, every church bell in our town rang at midnight on Christmas Eve to welcome the Christ child. We stayed awake to hear them, and searched for the skies for the brightest star that might have led the Wise Men.
But there was one person that truly showed me what the spirit of Christmas love was all about.