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Students Hope to Raise AIDS Virus Awareness

By Roderick A. Scheer

"'Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex' is the answer. The question--'what is still done when done safely,'" reads one poster.

Another says, "Don't put your life in jeopardy. Protect yourself and others from the HIV infection."

Members of AIDS Education and Outreach (AEO) are hoping that eyecatching posters like these--created for the nationwide AIDS Awareness Week--will help educate members of the Harvard community about the mounting risks of the AIDS epidemic.

Students said their message has been bolstered by media attention of the death of 18-year-old AIDS victim Ryan White two days ago.

"Ryan White is an example that anyone, even a teen-ager, can get AIDS," said AEO spokesperson Kristin M. Harder '92. "AEO really wants to emphasize that college is not an island."

Harder said a large number of AIDS victims "are between the ages of 20 and 30, and that means they could have contracted the disease while in their teens, while in college."

White, who had been fighting the disease since he was 14, stood as a symbol of the nationwide movement against AIDS discrimination when he was initially barred from his elementary school in Kokomo, Indiana. He had contracted AIDS from a bloodclotting agent administered to him in treatment of his hemophilia.

To mark AIDS Awareness Week which began Sunday, members of AEO are tabling in dining halls to provide information about the virus--and its relevance to college students.

"The fact is that one in 500 college students in this country are infected with the HIV virus," Harder said.

"We get lots of questions at AEO about AIDS testing, but people do not seem to be so concerned about safer sex," said Harder. "If this continues, will the spread of AIDS ever stop?"

Harder also said that while education had slowed the growth of AIDS among gays the disease was spreading rapidly among heterosexuals.

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