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School Debate
Jun 29, 1998

We need some information on Aids and the workplace and school environments. We are doing a debate in our grade 11 english class,"Staff/students should be notified if a person in their midst is infected with Aids". We are the affirmative side and need to prove that this should be allowed. Could you help us?

Response from Ms. Breuer

You certainly have the harder job. The other side can appeal to facts. You can appeal only to emotions, because the facts (and the law) are not on your side. As a former high school English teacher, I'm not crazy about this assignment. In the first place, all medical information is confidential and can be shared only with the person's permission. In the second place, there is no such thing as being "infected with AIDS." A person can be infected with HIV, which is the virus that can cause AIDS.

I suggest that you use the approach that if there is disclosure (with, and only with, the person's clear permission), and if there is good, reliable HIV education at the school as well, then knowing that a person at the school has HIV or AIDS can be a valuable part of everyone's education about the epidemic we now face. Most people your age have not met anyone who lives with AIDS, so it's hard for them to believe that this could every happen to them. Knowing someone your own age could help make that clear to everyone. In 1997, 14% of the new cases of AIDS occurred in people from 13-24.

Because of your age, you are especially at risk, so for you education is, in my opinion, a necessary vaccine. Think about it: what could some of the consequences be if your side "won" the debate? What could happen to the person with HIV if everyone else had not been educated? I suggest following the debate with a discussion about this question, at least with your teacher, and better yet with the whole class. A person with HIV poses no threat to the health of anyone else at school as long as you're doing what you're there to do and you're using barriers to do first aid.

Nancy Breuer



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