The reality of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has created a profound public health problem around the world, which can no longer be ignored. The medical, legal and ethical issues facing society are of equal concern to America's colleges and universities. The predicted spread of the AIDS virus carries with it the potential for work and class disruption, morale problems, discrimination suits and extraordinary dollar outlays for health care. Involved are such issues as medical, legal, benefits, employee relations, student concerns, affirmative action, employee assistance, and safety. A rational approach to the AIDS issues requires full and accurate information for policy development, effective systems for educating students and campus personnel, and flexibility in dealing with the multitude of human relations concerns which are involved.
EDUCATION: A PRIORITY
A major priority of colleges and universities, in regard to the AIDS epidemic, must be education. Because AIDS is spread by certain chosen behaviors, and because the disease is still considered to be fatal, because therapies are not curative, and because a vaccine is not yet available, the most important goals are to prevent the spread of the disease and to minimize fear and hysteria in the college community.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT AIDS
AIDS is caused by a breakdown of the body's defense system, producing susceptibility to certain diseases characterized by a spectrum of disorders and symptoms. People with AIDS suffer from unusual, life-threatening infections and/ or rare forms of cancer.
Just because someone has been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS does not mean that they have AIDS or the illness associated with AIDS. Anyone who has been infected with the virus or who has had a positive blood test for AIDS is considered to be infectious to other people.
The AIDS virus in not easy to transmit. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS is very fragile, and there is no evidence that AIDS can be transmitted by casual contact. The spectrum of HIV infection ranges from asymptomatic to serious illness which stops short of the AIDS definition, to AIDS itself. Many of the early symptoms of AIDS and HIV Disease are similar to those illnesses such as the "flu." Of particular importance are:
People with HIV-infection in any stage present no danger to classmates, roommates, or those with whom they eat, sit, swim, or share a bathroom. Objects touched or handled by HIV infected people are not contaminated and should not be feared.
There is no need for concern about the safety of swimming pools, whirlpools, saunas, telephones, or telephone booths. HIV cannot be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or handling food. Anyone living with a person who has HIV in any stage is at no risk for getting HIV unless engaging in HIV transmitted behavior.
HIV is transmitted by contact with blood or body fluids containing blood. The three most common modes of transmission are unprotected sex, sharing needles and syringes, and transmission from mother to baby. Fluid containing the HIV virus may enter the body through skin broken by injury or needles, or through contact with mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
RISK REDUCTION INFORMATION
The following risk reduction information and guidelines are based on recommendations provided by the American College Health Association.
Behaviors that increase risk for exposure to HIV include:
Methods of reducing risk:
HIV ANTIBODY TESTING
An accurate test for the HIV antibody is now available at all county health departments and through private physicians. Here are some of the questions and answers:
How accurate is the test?
The Western Blot test for HIV is now considered to be 99.5% accurate.
Who should be tested?
Anyone who has engaged in unprotected sex, has had multiple partners, has used hypodermic needles with others or feel they are at risk for HIV infections should be tested.
What is the difference between "Confidential' and "Anonymous" testing?
Anonymous testing has no name or other identifying information attached to the sample. Confidential testing has a name attached and the results often become part of a medical record.
What is the advantage of getting tested?
There are several. Knowing your HIV status, positive or negative, allows you to change your behavior so you can avoid infection or infecting others. Also, new treatments are now available that can delay the progression from HIV infection to AIDS. Earlier medical treatment allows HIV positive people to live longer.
You can contact one of the following counselors for more information:
Shelia Gordon Cumberland Campus700 College RoadCumberland, KY 40823606-589-2145 EXT.firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Sutton Middlesboro Campus1300 Chichester AveMiddlesboro, KY 40965606-242-2145 EXT. 50768 email@example.com
*A negative HIV test means you have not developed antibodies to HIV. Most people who are susceptible to the virus will convert to a positive status within 3-12 weeks of exposure.