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November 30, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-30

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 30, 1995

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. . e ul t ttn tttlg

JUDITH KAFKA

THE FIE PRIT

1 *

.- -

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULIE BECKER
JAMES M. NASH
Editorial Page Editors

Discusson ofAIDS wallows iz
despair when there could be hope

.

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofa majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters. and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
*
The AIDS crisis
Local, campaign aims to heighten awareness

espite numerous public-service an-
nouncements and shock-value cam-
paigns, at least two Americans are infected
with HIV every minute.
Progress in education and prevention does

not erase the fact that roughly 1 million
people in the United States alone
are infected with HIV, an esti- J
mated 500 of whom live in
Washtenaw County. These fig- AWAR
ures serve to remind the public W
that HIV does not affect only
the big cities or Third World
countries. To put it simply, the
largest lecture hall filled with
HIV-infected people represents Nox
the effect of HIV on only one
county, in one state. DE
The government and health-
care providers seem divided,
even among themselves, on how to deal with
the AIDS crisis. Some have given up, feeling
that nothing is left to be done. Some cite
numerous attempts to educate the public and
to provide for safer sex, and conclude that the
situation will eventually work itself out. Oth-
ers urge that there is much more to be done,
but no one seems to know what "more"
includes. What the public ends up seeing is a
disjointed attempt at stopping an epidemic
when none of the groups involved can come
to a consensus on the epidemic's official
status.
The government must join with private
organizations and special-interest groups to
form a strategy to fight AIDS: preventing the

J
.
V
J+

spread of HIV, researching treatments for
HIV victims and finding a cure and a vaccine
for AIDS.
Attempts at public education have been
somewhat successful. The rate of HIV infec-
tion has dropped, and the public's perception
of an HIV-positive individual
DS is no longer strictly that of a
homosexual male. It may seem
ENESS insignificant, but it is a giant
EEK step from seeing AIDS as some-
one else's disease, to realizing
that HIV infects a heterosexual
female college student just as
easily as it infects an IV-drug
. 27- user. It is only when people
realize that they are not in any
C. .1. way immune to AIDS that they
begin to take precautions.
This year's AIDS Aware-
ness Week, sponsored at the University by
various campus groups, is crucial in remind-
ing students that AIDS is still very much a
national crisis that they can help prevent.
Activities such as panel discussions and films
may appear useless in helping to prevent the
further spread of AIDS, but if they make
people aware of their own susceptibility to
the disease, these programs will be success-
ful. Groups like AIDS Education Is On Us/
Names Project, ProjectSERVE and the HIV/
AIDS Resource Center need and deserve the
support of the campus community. Their
work to increase AIDS awareness and stop
the spread of HIV is not only commendable,
but desperately needed.

The AIDS epidemic has been going full
force now for over a decade, and doesn't
appear to be slowing down. In fact, a study
released last week shows that infections are
actually on the rise, particularly for young
adults.
According to this new research, I in
every 92 men ages 27 to 39 is infected with
the AIDS virus. For Hispanic and African
American men the rate is even higher - I in
60 and 33 respectively. Young women fare
better, being more than four times less likely
to be infected then men, but this still trans-
lates into a large and growing number of
cases.
While startling when viewed as raw num-
bers, these figures shouldn't come as too
much of a surprise: Last year the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention declared
AIDS the No. I killer of people ages 25 to
44, and the disproportionately high rate of
infection among African American and His-
panic communities has been known for some
time.
Yet hopefully this newest study will pro-
voke discussions about how we deal with the
reality of AIDS, and perhaps initiate some
changes in how we approach the epidemic.
Teaching prevention methods is obvi-
ously a very important aspect of AIDS edu-
cation; the author of the study warns that if
the trend continues, contracting HIV may
become a "rite of passage" for young adults.
Teens need to be informed in high school
and evenjuniorhigh about practicing"safer"
sex along with the option of abstinence:
radical groups that want any discussion of
AIDS banned from the classroom need to

recognize that the epidemic will not go away
by ignoring or marginalizing it - it mby
make it worse.
Yet as AIDS is affecting more and more
people, merely concentrating on how fur-
ther infections can be prevented is not
enough.
Reading an article in the Daily earlier
this week about AIDS awareness activities
on campus, I couldn't help but feel frustrl-
tion over the promotion of what seemed to
me a message relatively limited in scope'.
The article detailed the horrors of AIDS, tht
pain of losing someone to the epidemic and
the need to use preventive measures to en-
sure personal safety. These are all valid
issues, and ones that dominate discussions
of AIDS, but they tend to omit an essential
element from the discourse: hope.
Talking about the horror ofthe disease is
important - those who suffer should not
have to do so in silence. Yet repeating that no
one should have to go through the pain of
having AIDS is beside the point: Of course
no one should have to go through it, but tens
of thousands of Americans do.
Exhibits displaying statements like,
"More students are getting their test results:
HAIV+andit's 100% preventable- learn the
facts," are intended to be instructive, but are,
in fact, erroneous and misleading,
We need to move away fromabsolutisms
and focus on more realistic understandings
of what it means to become infected with the
AIDS virus.
Andrew Sullivan, editor of the New Re-
public, published an opinion piece in The
New York Times last week, arguing that too

much emphasis is put on the hopelessness of
the epidemic and not enough on the progress
made by medical science in fighting it. He
wrote about the progress made in finding
treatments and drugs that can prolong the
lives of people diagnosed with AIDS, and,
the lack of attention these discoveries gar-
nered within the genera] discourse on AIDS.
Over'a year ago, AIDS & Public Policy
Journal ran an article ritten by a clinical
psychologist detailing how the AIDS pre-
vention campaign creates a sense of hope-
lessness for many ga} men. The author
claimed that the risks involved in certain
sexual acts have been exaggerated in the
name of "better safe than sorry" policies,
causing many gay men tp find the guidelines
for preventing infection so unreasonable that
they view contracting the virus inevitable
and thus take no action to prevent it.
Both these authors faulted the present
discourse on AIDS for providing an atmo-
sphere of despair, and both suggested alter
native, more honest discussions, in which
AIDS is not viewed in absolute terms.
Not that the seriousness of the epidemic
should in any way be disregarded, nor the
measures used to fight it alleviated. The
federal government needs to increase, not
cut, funding to public health programs thai
help people with'Al DS and continue to pro
mote AIDS education.
Recognizing the severity of the epidemic
while allowing room for understanding and.
hope for the future is not a self-contradictory
ask. On the contrary, it is 4 necessary one.
- Judith Kafka can be reached over e-
mail at jkaka@umich.edu.

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NOTABLE QUOTABLE
'they're talking
about talking.'
Presidential spokes-
man Mike McC'urry,
judging preliminary
negotiations between the
White House and
Congress on the federal
budget

Everyone's problem

a f;. CAI~N 55E

'Generation X" also
n 1993, 1 in 5 reported AIDS cases was
from a person between 20 and 30. In 1994,
half of the 40,000 new HIV infections oc-
curred among people age 25 or younger. If
people still believe that HIV/AIDS does not
affect "Generation X," they are wrong.
Some claim that this is a small number -
a drop in the bucket, when compared to the
big picture of AIDS. They claim this age
group will eventually become aware that
AIDS kills. One wonders how big the num-
bers have to be before they warrant special
attention. The government must continue to
focus attention on prevention on this age
group as well as others.
The first cases of AIDS were reported in
1981. By the end of 1992, more than 250,000
Americans had contracted the disease and
more than 170,000 had died. While the epi-
demic at first centered on gay men, it is
spreading rapidly to the rest of the popula-
tion. AIDS is now one of the three main
causes of death among people ages 15 to 44,
and women comprised 11 percent of all cases
in 1993 -a percentage that has increased
each year. At current rates, by the year 2000,
every person will either be infected with HIV
or will know an HIV-infected person.
Realizing these facts is the first step in
combating the AIDS epidemic -but it is not
nearly enough. The government must put
more funding into researching treatments,
cures and vaccines. Over the past 14 years,
the cumulative cost of caring for and treating
HIV/AIDS patients was $15.2 billion. Even

falls prey to AIDS
if the value ofthe lives lost is overlooked, the
money spent on care of AIDS patients is
astronomical.
To point this out is not to suggest that
AIDS patients should not be cared for; it
suggests that in 1981, if someone had pro-
posed spending $1 billion per year on AIDS
research, he or she would have been laughed
at and ignored.
Unfortunately, too many of those making
such proposals are now being laughed at and
ignored. The money is still being spent, but
instead of funding research, it is funding the
care of dying people. Private organizations
and the government must face facts: Funding
for AIDS research should not be leveled off
or decreased. The scope of the disease is
expanding, and funding must be increased
proportionately. What appears to be a hefty
cost now will seem minuscule in the future,
when even larger costs burden the health care
system, and many more people are dead.
The Center for Disease Control estimates
that the average period from the time a per-
son is diagnosed with the HIV virus to the
time of death is between eight and 11 years.
Conceivably, then, someone who is infected
with HIV today may not have to face the
same future that many of today's AIDS pa-
tients do. If funding is increased, researchers
may find a cure within the next 11 years.
With a concerted effort, a future in which
HIV infection does not mean certain death is
possible. Without such an effort, AIDS is a
death sentence - for certain.

VIEWPOINT
Football seating policy breeds confusion

By Zachary M. Raimi
While the quick-footed Michi-
gan running backs are dodging
tacklers and high-stepping to the
end zone, student fans have to
undertake similar spin-moves to
evade the yellow-ijacketed ushers
at Michigan Stadium on football
Saturdays. The students are not
rewarded with high-fives or
cheers from the crowd if they are
successful; theironly reward isto
sit where they want within the
student section.
All of this rushing, however,
would be unniecessary if the
University's Athletic Department
changed its student-seating policy
to general admission fornext year.
Currently, the ushers are charged
with the daunting task of keeping
order as more than 100,000 people
cheer on the Wolverines. They
attempt to execute flawed seating
guidelines handed down by the
University's Athletic Depart-
Raimi is an LSAjunior and
Daily staff reporter.

ment.
The rules are as follows: Each
student who purchases season
tickets gets assigned to a specific
section and seat number for the
year. The student is required to
enter the appropriate gate and sit
in the assigned seat. The Univer-
sity allows groups of friends to sit
together, but only if they pur-
chase the tickets together. Stu-
dents, however, need more free-
dom to sit where and with whom
they choose.
Even though tileUniversity
allows groups of students to pur-
chase tickets togetherit is unrea-
sonable to assume that this is easy,
or that it guarantees seating
choice. It is very hard for a large
group of friends to arrange the
purchase of tickets with each
other. In addition, people make
new friends as each year
progresses, anld first-year students
may want to sit with newly made
friends.
To sit where they want, stu-
dents must either walk across the

bleachers once in the stadium, gotten seats. With more than
dodging ushers, or they must re- 106,000 people crowded into the
sort to otherwise unnecessary stadium, there are few dIaces to
trickery and commit a form of go if someone is dislodged.
"ticket fraud." This occurs wlen Since the current rules cause
students use the same ticket stub more problems than they solve,
to enter a section, ;once they pass the Athletic Department should
through the outside admissions scrap them and allow general ad-
gate. Often, part of a group of mission. Many other college and
students will enter the appropri- professional stadiums foll6w this
ate section, and once in, one of policy, whiih works well. If de-
the students will take the stubs partment officials still want to
from the other admitted students ensure that seniors get better seats
and leave the section. Then, he or than first-year students, for ex-
she gives the stubs to the students ample, then they can assign se-
in the group who have been as- niors to bettor sections and hope
signed to sections elsewhere. In that they 4ill sit somewhere
the end, students make many more within the section.
trips in and out of the stadium, This simple, sensible reform
causing more conlFusion for the would cause less commotion,
ushers. decrease tje possibility of fight-
And perhaps tlhe most frust ing and free up the ushers' time to
trating thing about the policy is deal with more pressing prob-
that it protects latecomers to the lems, likJ illegal alcohol use.
game. After studeristhave settled Overall, this reform will help ev-
into their seats, and the first half ery interest d party, and make the
is winding down, many ticket experience of Michigan football
holders suddenly show up and' more enjoyable, even if the Wol-
bump students from their misbe- verines lode.
' s
daiIy~e~ersumic~er

TEN YEARSAGO IN THE DAILY
Vicious scribblngs
debase dialogue

How To CONTACT THEM
State Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith
(D-Washtenaw County)
410 Farnum Building
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-2406

On the stairwells of the Mod-
ern Languages Building, in the
carrels of the Graduate Library,
and all over the campus angry
graffiti marks the walls. Some
passersby are offended, others
ignore it.
The central focus of this graf-
fiti is an age-old expression of
hostility towa~rd minorityvrand

the friction in personal lives. In-
stead, students conform to fit ste-
reotypical images, and befriend
others like themselves for the se-
curity that is abundant in famil-
iarity.
The necessity of feeling com-
fortable with friends should not
be minimalized. However, the
recent increase in graffiti seems

State Rep. Liz Brater
(D-53rd district, Central Campus)

State Rep. Mary Schroer
(D-52nd district, North Campus)

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