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AIDS ARTICLE INCORRECT

From: Barbara Hernan

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Regional AIDS Educator

Harford, Cecil and Kent counties

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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

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Fallston

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.

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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

Edgewood

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.

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But there was one person that truly showed me what the spirit of Christmas love was all about.

My daughter was 4 and my son 2 that year. They had lost their Daddy in July. My health was poor, and we were struggling financially. I wasn't looking forwardto Christmas. Then, a strange thing happened. We received an anonymous call. The voice asked if it was all right for Santa to come for a visit on Christmas Eve. I was shocked, and without thinking said, "Yes."

At first I was excited and curious. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me -- I didn't recognize the voice. I was alone with two children,and a stranger, who said he was Santa, was coming to my home. What asinking feeling of doom and panic. I had no way of calling him back.Maybe we should just not be here when he arrived. What was I going to do?

Finally, I thought of a plan. I could ask my friend's teen-age, football player son to come and spend the evening with us. Then we would be safer. He came. We waited and waited. Our young protector got bored and left. Later, there was a knock at our door. Apprehensively, opened it, and there was Santa! The two children squealed with delight. He brought a huge bag of new toys for each of them and playedwith them as they opened each toy. He said he was there because God loved them, and knew that they needed something special this year.

Actually, it was the beginning of a mystery that has lasted 13 years. We never saw Santa again, but he seemed to be aware of so much about us. When my son had a ruptured appendix at age 3 and almost died, Santa called him in the hospital and prayed with him. When both children were on a swimming team, he called to congratulate them for their successes. Plus, each Christmas for 13 years, he has managed to leavegifts on our porch without being seen or heard.

Now that the children are almost grown, they have started to look for their own ways to secretly make someone else experience a Christmas filled with that special love. Santa, you will always be our unforgettable Christmas memory, not just for the gifts and concern, but for constantly pointing our family to God because your actions were motivated by your faithin God, who sent his son to be our savior. I hope you read this and know that it is a small token of our long overdue thanks.


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