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March 04, 1988 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-04
Note:
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qw

-44

AIDS

in A2:

Who

isat

risk?

Cotinuedfrom Page 1)
didn't notice the note right away. I had been studying a
few hours on the bottom floor of the Graduate Library when
I read the table graffiti for a little comic relief. But comic
relief was the last thing I experienced. Whoever wrote this
note wanted someone to see it. He used a wide-tipped black
felt pen and neatly wrote his message from the top corner to
the bottom in fat, block letters. He even titled it: "... a
desperate plea for help."
It's virtually impossible to determine if the note is au-
thentic. Some area health professionals who have been in
frequent contact with people infected with the AIDS virus
said that, for reasons of confidentiality, they couldn't speak
even if they did know. Others said they didn't know anyone
matching Kyle's description. But Barbara Reisman, who
runs Wellness Networks of Huron Valley - a nonprofit
agency which has set up a network of support groups for
AIDS patients and those testing positive to the AIDS virus
- thinks the note is genuine.
"The note is real," she said. "But I don't think I know
him. Certainly he is typical of someone who's contracted
the virus. Perhaps by now he's dropped out of school, or
moved out of the area, or he is simply choosing not to seek
help, at least with us. But I don't see how anyone could
make this up."
Although not well-publicized, AIDS is certainly not
new to the University. In the last two years, four professors
have died of AIDS, including one who died out-of-state after
working at the University for 15 years. Law professor James
Martin was the first to die. He was a popular and well-liked
professor, known for his brilliant intellect and the humor he
brought to his lectures and textbooks. By the time he died,
two-thirds of his body was covered with shingles and his
weight dropped from 185 pounds to under 100, according to

By Anne Gertiser
a close friend of his. Martin's death on Dec. 10, 1985, was
announced in a front page article in the Ann Arbor News.
His lover of eight or nine years, Don Newburn, died 20 days
after him.
History of Art Professor Calvin French died of an AIDS-
related death in the spring of 1986. Another professor fol-
lowed in May, dying suddenly of acute respiratory failure as
a result of Pneumocystis Pneumonia. His death certificate
showed AIDS as the immediate cause. A fourth professor
died in September of 1986 of Cryptosporidiosis, again due
to AIDS.
As many as 2,000 people in Washtenaw County could be
infected with the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV),
said John Atwater, director of the Washtenaw County Health
Department. But even though he thinks this estimate may
be high, Atwater called the 24 AIDS cases in the county
"the tip of an iceberg."
The onset of AIDS can be thought of as a continuum
starting with contraction of the HIV virus and leading to
full-blown symptoms brought on by the collapse of the
immune system or destruction of brain cells.
There is a possibility that a positive HIV test result is
false, but for high risk group members - homosexual
males and intravenous drug users- at least 70 to 95 percent
of positive results are true.
The county's number of patients in the intermediate stage
where people have some symptoms but are not diagnosed as
terminally ill is about 200, Atwater said.
Of the 24 people who have been diagnosed with AIDS in
Washtenaw County, 13 have died. In the vast majority of
cases, the virus was transmitted sexually, said Cynthia
Wrentmore, Communicable Disease Specialist for Washte-
naw County.
The county does not attempt to identify past lovers of a
person diagnosed with AIDS, said Wrentmore.
"It would be very costly and what you're talking about is
an adult population," she explained. "There is not a mature
adult that does not know what's considered risk behavior.
And if you're going to look at a person, you'd have to go
back 11 or 15 years. We put our money in education in-
stead."
Wrentmore stressed that AIDS is rapidly becoming a
heterosexual phenomenon.
"People have to understand that there is a very high
number of individuals with a very wide range of normal
sexual behavior. Within that wide range, bisexuality is
practiced at a higher level than any of us realize."
"There are 45 women in Michigan with AIDS. Of the 24
AIDS cases (in Washtenaw County), 10 have exposed
women. We used to think only in terms of a woman at risk
if she makes love to a bisexual man. But there's also a risk
to a man if he makes love to a woman if she has made love
to a man with AIDS."
But 87 percent of the state's diagnosed AIDS cases are
homosexual males or IV drug abusers, while only eight per-
cent are female, and only three percent heterosexual.
University students, faculty and staff members can obtain
a free, anonymous AIDS test at Univeritv icealth Services.
Of the estimated 425 people tested at the center about one
and a half percent tested positive for the HIV virus, said
Caesar Briefer, director of University Health Service.
"You have to go out and get AIDS. AIDS will not come
out and get you," Briefer said, explaining why Health Ser-
vices stress AIDS education. "We emphasize safe sex and
hand out condoms during the presentations and here at the
clinic, but, no, we don't walk out throwing them around the
Diag; we're not interested in creating a lot of controversy.
"It's a difficult issue," Briefer said, "because people con-
fuse morality and public health. It's not the role of medicine
to sit in judgment and never has been. If someone comes in

with a case of herpes, you don't scold him for being a
naughty boy. You help him."
Studies show that receiving a positive test result to an
AIDS antibody test is more psychologically traumatic to a
person than actually finding out they have the disease, said
Polly Paulson, coordinator of AIDS education at Health
Services.
Apparently, Kyle is no different. In his note, he considers
suicide.
"... my major concern comes with telling my parents.
How in the hell do you tell two wonderful people like my
parents that their only child is dying from one (disease that)
most persons understand to be a killer. This will kill them,
and I no longer care about myself but what about my
beautiful mother. she deserves much better than this. Maybe

The odds of survival are not encouraging. Statistics show
that 10 to 30 percent of those who tested positive for the
AIDS antibody will develop the universally fatal disease
within five years. After five years the odds for developing
AIDS worsen to 50 percent or more.
Jn Ann Arbor, the gay community is tightly knit and
informally organized by support groups. All gay men don't
know each other, said Jim Toy, director of the University's
Gay Male Programs, but he added they are likely io meet and
socialize together if they are in the same profession or hold
common interests. For those people who have been rejected
by their families, the gay "family" is all that's left, Toy
said. He said gays are not really any more or less sexually
active than heterosexuals.
"Gays are just like anyone else. It varies by individual,"
Toy explained, adding that several relationships have split
up because of AIDS.
"People want to have a lifelong partner and are looking
for the 'Right One' because they want to be monogamous,"
he said. Conversely, condoms have liberated sexual activity
for some. With assurance of protection, some gay men are
no longer afraid of having several lovers. Students generally
tend to have shorter and more frequent relationships, he said.
At a recent gay support group meeting, gay men spoke
about how AIDS had affected their lives. Do they live in fear
of contracting the virus or do they think of AIDS as some-
thing that happens to someone else? Some members were
students, carrying knapsacks, others were casually dressed in

2709

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STATE OF MICHIGAN
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
CERTIFICATE OF DEATH

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STATE FILE NUMBER

CF
1019
DECEDENT NAM~
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DATE Of DEATH (McDIY V,
, Dec. 10 1985

w.. +-,.r. AGE . ,.. UNDER_1 YEAR UNDER 1 DAY ATE OF BIRTH 'Mo Oar Vi COUNTY OF DEATH
sATM s 4s s osM194 . Washtenaw
-Y Ann Arbor "HOSPITAL R 'OTHERINSTITUTION ...,* ,,- 4,

The meeting began after about 40 men had seated them-
selves in a large circle. Their biggest problem with the
AIDS "issue," most said, was a general feeling of harass-
ment and public moralizing.
"There's a good percentage of people who are attaching a
moral thought to this, but there is no moral. If you look at
it that way, lesbians must be the chosen people because they
don't get it," said Steve, a group member.
'I did go through the panic stage. I
thought, I could die just from havig sex.
But being in the gay community, I' als o
getting into the boredom stage - I've been
saturated with so much information I just
don't want to hear it anymore'
-Gay support group member
The threat of AIDS has prompted most group members
to practice what's euphemistically called "safe sex."
"We've been bombarded on how to use a condom, what
kind of lubricants you're supposed to use, everything there
is to know about a condom. And most everybody is putting
it into practice," he added.
Brian, another University student, said there are those
who remain careless. The typical profile is a young man
having his first homosexual ercounter and feeling young;
eternal, and invulnerable. He's likely to believe that his first
lover won't have AIDS. Also, as scmeone who has just
"come out of the closet," he is hik ly to be more sexually
active.
"When you first come out, you're crazy; you sleep with
anybody that walks. It's only afterwards that you think of
what you've been doing," Brian said.
"It's just not young people who think they'll live for-
ever, it's everybody," Steve said. You don't think you'll be
the person that'll be in the plane accident, you won't be the
one who'll die in the car crash. I know someone who died in
Canada. He was late in coming out, 26 or 27 years old, and
very, very naive. He was unlucky and got AIDS and eventu-
ally died from it."
But even for those well-grounded in the risks of AIDS,
undergoing an AIDS antibody test or asking it of a lover is
socially unacceptable. Most prefer to simply use condoms
for protection.
Brian said that discussing AIDS with someone you're
newly interested in is "not considered cool. It's a question I
don't feel comfortable in asking someone. Afterwards,
maybe - later when the relationship is going. But I think it
would be offensive right off. 'Gee, you have nice eyes -
Do you have AIDS?"'
There are other considerations as well, such as the
embarrassment of walking into a clinic. Bob, a man in his
30s, said he went for a test at the Henry Ford Hospital in
Detroit. The woman behind the desk gingerly handed him a
pencil, careful to touch only the lead. Additionally, insur-
ance companies sometimes deny policies or raise rates for
clients who have taken an AIDS antibody test.
"A lot of gay people are afraid that if they've been
tested, people will find out they had the test. They can deny
you medical or life insurance. If you're 25 or over, single
and male, they'll start asking you questions. They may not
reject you because you're gay, but they'll find a way," Bob
said. Another man at the meeting was forced to take an
AIDS test by his manager at an Ann Arbor beer retail store
or be fired. He took it. "I had no choice. I went and got it;"
he said.
Rather than taking an AIDS antibody test, many discuss
their sexual history with their new partner and rely on safe
sex for protection. But there are different ways of interpret-
ing what is really safe. AIDS can be transmitted through
body fluids, including blood, semen, urine, feces, saliva and
vaginal secretions. That means even open-mouthed, intimate
kissing is risky behavior. The American Red Cross recom-
mends avoiding deep kissing, anal intercourse and oral geni-
tal contact. That leaves little except for light petting. De-
spite the recommendations and warnings, most men say
they're continuing sexual relations, but relying on condoms
for protection; some use double condoms in case of failure.

"I don't f---. I kiss
Ron said. He said there
sex since it's unclear'
down the AIDS virus,
knows a person who l
sex.
After the meeting,
He spoke in a rapid w
room.
"What they said in
"I'm scared. I go to a
totally depresses me.
haven't had sex for a
cause I keep thinking
ready to die for it. I'm
ing at a couple of si
started wondering abo
ple are thinking the sa
would ever admit it.
Jim Toy said that I
sue has increased the
for the physical and ye
lesbian.
"More people are
- people will searc
feeding this," Toy said
The AIDS issue h
and in dormitories, T
Law School, someone
Anti-gay sentiments a
rooms and men's bath:
Is Kyle's sexual n
that common? The is
work. Toy and a few s
by a professor, but sirr
University policy
ships between faculty a
September by the Fac
warned that sexual
exploitative and should
The University all
with AIDS to contin
tion's focus is on prev
against those individu
tional American Coll
which explain that "
intimate sexual conti
blood."
If there is anythin
it's the growing sense
gay community. A nu
vices have sprung up f
"There is help," F
(Kyle) has suicidal fo
There are things he ca
health. This is not a
with a lot of ambiguit
Wellness Network
is the only area ager
groups (662-6134), s
chapter.
The programs are
those in the support g
protect anonymity. I
Counselling Services
Both have sliding scal
Support groups a
tively, Reisman said
building up your bod)
cold. People should a
again, she said.
"(Kyle) sounds de
happen. Medical sci
Reisman said. "He's'
they may find a cure
"I know individu
years. Some are con
giving up. They're li'
for the moment."

tiS Of v LL cf 4 15 W

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AREN' RES IDENCE STATECO sN;LOCALITO rns O Ann Arbor STREET AND NUMBER
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FATHER NAME 1F,*STMWOOLEBAST MOTHER MAIDEN NAME *msT MwOO
Clarence Marjorie
NFORMAN TMAILING ADDRESS stAmEi o aio o cm0 3o W sAT Z
8a 'sigaurei John Newbern is, 1105 Granger Ave., Ann Arbor Michigan 48104
t19 MMEDIATE CAUSE [ENTER ONLY ONE CAUSE PER LINE FOR 4a), (b, AND /c)l /stee "' '-1, &d ..t,

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PAQ! I /1 !^ !1

DUE TO OR AS A CONSEQUENCE OF
This document details the death of one University professor. Four University professors have died of AIDS.

t

I won't ever tell them just go home for Christmas this year
as if nothing's wrong go through with it, return here in
January as normal and commit (sic) suicide later in the term.
"Oh my God, I'm so lost and so unsure about everything
what should I do? Can you tell me?"
Reisman advises Kyle or anyone who tests positive for
the AIDS virus to think positively and seek emotional sup-
port.
"(Kyle) will be well for quite some time; he needs to be
retested. He does not need to commit suicide. He has plenty
of time and he's not sick. He needs to be living positively.
A support group will put him in contact with other men
who are living positively. He needs to understand himself,
the disease, and the process before he tells his parents. He'll
probably find that his parents, when he does tell them, will
continue to love him because he's their son," Reisman said.

sweats. A few were business professionals. Almost everyone
greeted a friend or two with a quick hug.
The official "greeter" for the support group talked about
his reaction to the AIDS threat. "I did go through the panic
stage. I thought, I could die just from having sex. But be-
ing in the gay community, I'm also getting into the bore-
dom stage - I've been saturated with so much information;
I just don't want to hear it anymore."
"My reaction was different than his," said Ron, a first
year University student. "I didn't understand the concept of
dying and I don't really like to think about it now. But I
have two friends and it's their favorite topic. Paul will find
someone to go out with and they'll sleep together. By the
third date, he'll give him a lecture on AIDS, and on the
fourth date he wants to live together. He usually never
makes it to the fifth date."

ig(? wreemd fas
1i {'i t, } rX', {r . Ec";
T e. yvi r f t he y stop..C
A public health notice advises homosexuals to wear
condoms.

Gertiser is a gradm

PAGE 6 WEEKEND/MARCH 5, 1988

WEEKEND/MARCH 5, 1488

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