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July 3, 1998     Cape Gazette
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July 3, 1998

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38 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, July 3 - July 9, 1998 AIDS stigma revisited: the basics of the coepidemic By Seen C. Venable As long as stigma remains wide- spread and poorly understood, it will threaten the well-being of people with HIV, their loved ones and caregivers. It will prevent so- ciety from effectively eradicating the scourge of HIV. - National Institute of Mental Health, research workshop report Disease-related stigma has been around ever since I can remember. As a little kid growing up in the 1950s, I remember the neighbor lady who suddenly was ostracized by the people around her, and I couldn't figure it out. Wasn't she the same as she was yesterday - gabbing over the backyard fence, tending her kids, cooking and the like? Well, no. Turns out that she had gotten a diagnosis of cancer, the "Big C," and people were avoiding her be- cause they were afraid of catching it. Then, when scientists estab- lished that one could not catch cancer via casual contact, the woman was again "okay" to asso- ciate with. Weird. My next recollection of stigma had to do with the dreaded polio. Kids my age were dying or be- coming incredibly crippled. We weren't allowed to go swimming in public pools; we weren't al- lowed to touch anything. Kids with polio were treated in the same way as the lady with cancer. Then, the polio vaccine came along and that was that. Although "...any disease that is generally believed to be danger- ous, contagious and disfiguring is likely to be stigmatized," (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] workshop,) the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS not only seems different from the above exam- ples, it is different. AIDS stigma has to do with the fear of catching something by ca- sual contact, surely, but it has also become synonymous with the "out-groups" of our society - the people our society unthinkingly and unjustifiably hates. Accentu- ating the latter, those people are perceived to be at blame for their disease, which adds a moral com- ponent not usually associated with other major diseases. This, of course, connotes that this stigma is more than what meets the eye. According to Gregory Herek, UC-Davis, and Leonard Mitnich, NIMH, "AIDS stigma refers to prejudice, discounting, discredit- ing and discrimination directed at people perceived to have AIDS or HIV and at the individuals, groups and communities with which they are associated. It persists despite passage of protective legislation and disclosures by public figures that they have AIDS or are infect- ed with HIV." Symbolic AIDS Stigma - Negative attitudes toward in- fected people are most prevalent with symbolic stigmatization - the linking of HIV/AIDS with soci- One Day at a Time to meet July 6 One Day at a Time, a mutual support group for people with life- threatening illnesses, their fami- lies and other interested people, will meet at 1 p.m., Monday, July 6, at Beebe Medical Center. For more information, call the Beebe Medical Center Oncology Depart- ment at 645-3770. Bosom Buddies meets July 21 at Beebe Beebe Medical Center sponsors Bosom Buddies at 3 p.m., every third Tuesday. The next meeting will be on July 21 in the Tunnell Cancer Center conference room. The support group is for women living with breast cancer, whether they are newly diagnosed, cur- rently undergoing treatment or are long time survivors. Call 645- 3770 for more information. P.LActive offers support for heterosexuals P.L.Active, an AIDS support organization, will soon be offer- ing a support group for heterosex- Fitness Tip of the Week SussEx COUNTY. P.L.Active, PO Box 166, Lewes, DE 19958; 644-4791 * SCAC, PO Box 712,: Re- h0both Beach, DE 19958; 644- uals who are HIV positive or who have AIDS. The group will meet for nine weeks, Thursday evenings, at St. Peter's Church in Lewes. For more information, call 644-4791. Mammography van in Lewes July 28 Mammography of Delaware will have its mobile van at Lewes Senior Center from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 28. To make an appointment, call 800- 654-0606. Buddies are there for anyone with need P.L.Active provides buddy ser- vices that go beyond the more tra- ditional, long-term buddy ser- vices. The organization offers several kinds of buddy services, including check-in/phone buddies, who make contacts at set inter- vals, and HIV-testing buddies who help people get through the waiting period for test results. For more information, call 644-4791. HIV/AIDS support group meets weekly P.L.Active weekly support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS meet at St. Peter's Trouble sleeping? Try aromatherapy. The scents of vanilla, cedar wood, lavender and chamomile have been shown to produce relaxing effects that can help you ease into sleep. Submitted by the YMCA of Rehoboth Beach Church in Lewes. Groups gather at 6 p.m., Thursdays, and at I p.m., Fridays. Those interested in attending should call ahead, 644-4791. Know the facts about prostate cancer The members of Delaware's prostate cancer task force are mo- tivated by the following prostate cancer facts: The cause of prostate cancer is unknown. Each year, more than 184,000 men in the United States will get prostate cancer; more than 39,000 will die. This year, more than 500 men in Delaware will get prostate can- cer; more than 100 die. African-American men have more than a 40 percent higher chance of getting prostate cancer than white males. A man whose blood relative has prostate cancer is four times more likely to get prostate cancer. The early stages of prostate cancer show no symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they may be confused with those of an en- larged prostate. Only a doctor can tell the difference. As the result of early detection and treatment, prostate cancer sur- vivors recommend the following advice: Go to your doctor every year for a checkup. After age 40, ask your doctor to do a digital rectal exam (DRE) during your annual checkup. After age 50, ask your doctor for a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and a DRE dur- ing your annual checkup. African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should start PSAs For more infornuttion, call 227-8018 an d DREs at age 40. ety's outcasts. And it is this type of stigma that is the most loath- some. Herek and Mitnich stated: "Those who express negative atti- tudes toward gay people [and oth- er groups] are more likely than others to be poorly informed and excessively fearful concerning AIDS and are more likely to stig- matize people with AIDS." Unfortunately, symbolic AIDS stigma was unknowingly rein- forced early on in the epidemic by our epidemiologists, who were Continued on page 40 DAVID AUGUST, D.O. BOARD CERTIFIED PSYCHIATRIST University-Quality Psychiatry in Sussex County 645-9076 RED MILL CENTER, 467 Highway One, Lewes 24-hour Emergency Medical Care Minor emergencies demand expert care. When you're too far from your family doctor, and you don't need to call 91 !, you can depend on Beebe Emergency Medical Centers. Beebe Emergency Center, in Millville, and Beebe Medical Center, in Lewes, meet your needs with emergency-trained specialists at both locations, 24 hours a day. For emergency medical care: Near Bethany and Fenwick BEEBE EMERGENCY CENTER Raule 26, just west d Rt. ] and he Carat lge, Mille (41/2 miles west d Bethany Beach) Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For emergency information, call 539-8450. Lewes, near Rehobeth and Dewey Beach BEEBE MEDICAL CENTER EMERGENCY SERVICES Savannah Rood, east d lit. 1, Lewes Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. For emergency information, call 645-3291. DiM 911 for life-threatening emergencies. Call-A-Nurse at 645-3332 for phone advice. Beebe Medical Center