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March 27, 1998     Cape Gazette
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March 27, 1998

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, March 27 - April 2, 1998 - 41 Part I: Preventing HIV/AIDS - remedying behavior By Sean C. Venable AIDS is not tidy. Preventing the spread of AIDS is not only un- tidy; it is an awesome undertaking and, frankly, a "tough nut to crack." Although no one has all the an- swers, including myself, I believe everyone would agree that by turning our risky behavior around, we can turn the AIDS epidemic around too. On paper that seems straightfor- ward enough; however, it&apos;s much more complicated. Beyond the behavioral science vs. "real world" prevention controversy and beyond the scary statistics; it is a complex puzzle encumbered by many outside forces. Putting that aside for a moment, let's take a look at some of the various prevention theories mak- ing the rounds. People engage in risky behavior for the following reasons: They don't have the facts. (What is HIV, AIDS, etc.?) They are not aware of the risk of HIV infection. (For example, the HIV-positive prevalence rate in Delaware is 1 in 185.) They feel invincible. ("It won't happen to me!") They don't identify with the "high risk" groups (gay men, drug users, etc.) The people delivering the pre- vention messages aren't the same age or are not of the same "cul- ture.r' Peer pressure. Lack of safer sex skills (as- sertiveness, negotiation, condom use, etc.) All of those theories make sense to us, really, and so we have tried to remedy them, one by one, by various methods in various set- tings and in various groups. This is not to imply that our method- ologies, to date, are not worth- while or that they haven't had some success. The fact is, unfor- tunately, that they have not stemmed the epidemic - especially in people of color. People are get- ting infected by the thousands every day in this country, so, why don't our theories and related methodologies seem to be work- ing? In my opinion, they fall short because in the real world, HIV risk is an individual phenomenon, involving self-observation, evalu- ation and self-actualized solu- tions, so transferring information alone does not equal transformed behavior. They fall short because just as one AIDS drug does not work as well as a multidrug regimen, no one approach works as well as a combination approach. They fall short primarily because they gloss over the fact that our behavior is regulated by the way we think and by our perceptions. According to Donnovan Somera and Carolyn Lamb (AIDS Prevention Project, Mid-Peninsu- la YMCA, Palo Alto, Calif.), all of us are the products of what has been called our "cultural scripts." The maps - sets of ideas and norms that we carry around in our heads- dictate how we act, think and perceive in the world. These scripts are multifaceted, interac- tive and can encompass a wide range of topics, including but not limited to body ideals, violence, power, clothing, cars and more. "Sexual scripts" are a type of cul- tural script that regulates sex and HIV/AIDS support group to resume meetings in April P.L.Active HIV/AIDS support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS will resume meetings on the first Thursday and Friday in April. The Jack Fryer HIV/AIDS support group meets Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes. Potential participants must be prepared to give contact information to the leader by the second session. The group is limited to 12 people. For more information, call 644-4791. Fitness Tip of the Week Exercise and weight management tf you're interested in losing weight and body fat, you should in- crease your level of physical activi- ty. Activity of moderate intensity for a longer duration - 50 to 60 minutes -seems to be the most ef- fective way to lose weight and body fat. Submitted by Robert Cairo, licensed physical therapist, Tidewater Physical Therapy, 945-5111. The American Heart Association is offering free blood-pressure screenings in April. Screenings are as follows: Wednesday, April I Georgetown Edgehill, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.; Millsboro Edgehill, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Lewes Senior Center, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 Rehoboth Pharmacy, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Christiana Care Visiting Nurse Association will offer free blood- pressure screenings as follows: Wednesday, April 1 Pot-Nets Community Center, Long Neck; 10 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 6 Lather Towers, 500 Palmer St., Mil- ton, 1:30 to 3 p.m. sexuality, including gender roles. For example, people who came up in the 1960s culture were scripted with the idea of flower children, long hair, peace, mind expansion via recreational drugs, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, Woodstock and that with sexuali- ty, anything was OK as long as you didn't hurt anyone. The lat- ter, of course, overlooked that "you" are an "anyone." These scripts directed people's thinking, actions and per- ceptions. Just as the hippies embod- ied the scripts of the 1960s, today the group that seems to most embody how we think, VENABLE act and per- Editor's note: Sean Venabte is an administrator for P.L.Active, an AIDS support organization. ceive in the late 1990s are our youth, who are a microcosm of our culture's scripts. Understanding this group, in my opinion, is key to understanding the scripts that contribute to our thinking and, therefore, our risky behavior. Understanding the pathology of risky behavior can provide a workable methodology for change. Part II, which will run in the Cape Gazette's April 10 edition, will take a closer look at our youth group. What we find there may indicate how to turn our risky be- havior around and may suggest a possible solution through cus- tomized interventions. For more information, check the following: 1) "Prevention" on the HIV In- Site Web site at <http://hivin-> 2) "Breakin' Down Sexual Scripts: Empowering Youth in HIV Prevention Education," Somera, D. and Lamb, C., Mid- Peninsula YMCA APP. DELAWARE BAY SURGICAL SERVICE mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmlmmm Specializing in Vascular, Oncologic, Thoracic and General Surgery 424 Savannah Road, Lewes, Delaware 19958 (302) 645-3712