AIDS workshop at CCC will focus on education

November 29, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Area clergy, the staff of the county Health Department, volunteers from Carroll Hospice and the Carroll County AIDS Crisis Support Team will join to fight AIDS, as they participate in AIDS Awareness Day.

From 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Carroll Community College, participants hope to educate the community about AIDS and its prevention, and make people more sensitive to the plight of victims.

"People have an idea that AIDS can't happen here because the populations first affected don't make up a major portion of our population," said Michael R. Barretti, chairman of the crisis team.

"It is important for everybody to learn as much as they can about the epidemic of our times," he said.

About a year ago, Mr. Barretti joined the fight against AIDS as a Carroll Hospice volunteer, assigned to visit a hospitalized AIDS patient.

"I saw how desperate the man was," he said. "The people around him were just as desperate."

Mr. Barretti continued working with the patient until the man died nearly a year later. "All through his illness, the man was terrified that people in this county might find out," he said.

Mr. Barretti considered himself "privileged" to know the man and to help him to a peaceful death.

The experience showed him how people are responding to AIDS in the county and the need for education. The Health Department has been unable to form a support team for AIDS patients, he said, because the patients fear community reaction.

"We definitely need a support group for these patients," said Susan Hannon, a Carroll Hospice counselor. "We also need a bereavement support group for their families."

Mr. Barretti said the crisis team and other professional groups "must take the lead in educating the rest of the county."

They organized the awareness day as a way "to put our words into action," he said.

The day includes four presentations, followed by a question-and-answer session. Each presentation will be repeated once.

Discussions include:

* Linda Stromberg, a registered nurse and the county's only AIDS caseworker, on "AIDS 101," offering basic information and statistics.

* A clinical nurse from the AIDS unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on symptoms and treatment.

* A four-member clergy panel on the Christian response to AIDS.

* Susan Hannon on grief and loss.

"When you lose someone to AIDS, the grief process is different," Ms. Hannon said. "You have to deal with the stigma attached to the illness and often the loved one's prolonged suffering before death."

The event will open at 1:30 p.m., with the first block of presentations beginning at 1:45 p.m. Identical presentations will follow at 2:45 p.m. Fool Proof, a student troupe that acts out youth issues, will perform at 3:30 p.m.

Throughout the afternoon, organizers also will be showing "Teen AIDS in Focus," the video rejected by the county Board of Education.

Ms. Stromberg said that before long everyone will know someone who has died of AIDS and that people must learn how to respond to the disease. "We can't condemn AIDS patients, regardless of how they got the disease," she said.

"They are human beings."

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