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Lewes, Delaware
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January 30, 1998     Cape Gazette
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January 30, 1998

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28 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, January 30 - February 5, 1998 Warning Delawareans: No condom HIV By Scan Venable The world of dating, bar pick- ups and casual sex is mighty dan- gerous in the murky water here, if not just plain crazy. The old adage, "look before you leap," is good advice to apply. Let me give you a question and an analogy to ponder: If the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal were filled with piranhas, would you jump in? Probably ngt, But metaphorically, that's exactly what you do when you have un- protected sex these days in an un- certain environment. Just as you cannot tell by the surface of the water that there are piranhas un- derneath, you cannot guess the HIV status of a potential partner. As a man who has worked in the HIV/AIDS field for well over 15 years, I am amazed that we Delawareans haven't been com- pletely eaten up by the HIV virus, and I'm angry that folks seem to have such a cavalier attitude about a very serious public health cata- strophe and the disease that is the No. 2 killer of people ages 25-44 in Delaware, with the 19-24 age group close behind. Frankly, I don't have all the answers, but perhaps the facts will help. According to Delaware's own AIDS/HIV Surveillance Report (December 1997), Delaware ranks seventh in the United States in terms of living cases per 100,000 people, right behind the state of Maryland. (Nonresidents are not included in this statistic.) Right now, that means there are 1,039 people statewide who are living with AIDS, and remember, we're a small, rural state. There are also very likely countless peo- ple who are HIV-positive, but it is impossible to know how many, since Delaware, sadly, does not track those who are HIV-positive, despite confidential testing sites. Worded yet? No? Look at this: According to the Centers for Dis- ease Control (CDC) Surveillance report (mid-1997), Delaware's in- fection rate per 100,000 men is ranked fourth nationally (68.9, better than 20 points above the na- tional average of 48.1). Delaware is also fifth in the na- tion for the infection rate for women (21.1, better than 9 points above the national average of 12.2. Still not worried? In a recent poll of 900 adults conducted by Durex, a manufacturer of con- doms, 44 percent have not changed their behavior, yet 65 percent worry about becoming in- fected with HIV. Of the 56 per- cent who have adopted some change in their behavior, the ma- jority of respondents identified that change as trying to guess the likelihood of their potential part- ner being HIV positive. While the fact that 39 percent of college students have taken the HIV antibody test (according to a CDC poll of 5,000 students) is en- couraging, only 41 percent have received formal instruction about HIV in college classes and less than half have received prevention education. Only 30 percent reported using HIV/AIDS support group to resume meetings in April P.L.Active HIV/AIDS support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS will begin a winter hiatus on Jan. 29, but will resume meetings on the first Thursday and Friday in April. The Jack Fryer HIV/AIDS sup- port group, which meets Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. in the parish house of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Second and Mulberry streets, Lewes, will drop its pre- registrationrequirement. Poten- tial participants must be prepared to give contact information to the leader by the second session. The group is limited to 12 people. The emphasis of this group will be the sharing of experiences and prob- lems, medical and nonmedical, that are not easily shared with oth- ers. The goals of the group are to reduce isolation, to reassure and calm, to enhance a sense of relief and hope, and to provide a feeling of community. A reasonable level of trust and intimacy is expected to be achieved, so regular attendance is encouraged, and group members will be asked to commit to a mini- mum of two months participation after their second meeting. The Friday daytime group, which meets at 1 p.m. in the parish house of St. Peter's, will now be a drop-in group, but will be limited to 12 people at any one meeting. Participants must be HIV positive. Although the gen- eral topic will be HIV/AIDS, there will be an open agenda. Call 644-4791.  Fitness Tip - of the Week for ideal body weight [ How quickly you lose weight ] and keep it off depends on how J you exercise. Frequency and| duration of your exercise pro- gram itself is as important as the duration of your total pro- gram. Submitted by Robert Cairo, licensed physical therapist, Tidewater Physical Therapy, 945-5111. - death 1 a condom in the last sexual encounter. It comes as no surprise then, that it a recent study conduct- ed by Yale University in December VENABLE 1997, 87 per- cent - yes, 87 percent - of young people do not believe that they are vulnerable to HIV infection (Reuters and "The Washington Blade"). Hopefully, you've gotten the picture, so I'll stop here with the statistics. Nonetheless, there are several things I want you to take away from this article: HIV/AIDS is here in Delaware in a big way and an "it doesn't ap- ply to me attitude" is not accept- able. Every sexually active person must make the assumption that every sexual contact is with a per- son who is HIV positive. Protection must be used every time. If you think you can guess the HIV status of your partner, you are not only sadly mistaken, you are part of the problem in Delaware. To receive help, or for more in- formation, check out the follow- ing agencies: HIV/AIDS Services, Information and Referral, 644- 4791; for treatment and free con- doms, call Delaware Public Health at 856-5135; for HIV con- fidential testing, call 644-1090; National AIDS hotline, 1-800- 342-2437; and AIDS Case Man- agement for Kent and Sussex, 302-697-4494. Editor's note: Sean Venable is an administrator for P.L.Active, an AIDS support organization, BOARD CERTIFIED FAMILY PHYSICIAN Steven H. Berkowitz, D.O. Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily * Accepting patients ages 2 and up. 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