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Schools Launch AIDS Education For Teens

March 21, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Public high school students are talking with AIDS victims as part of a program to learn about the deadly disease.

″The strangest thing about living with this illness is that I don’t know what the future is for me,″ Jim Slemmons recently told students at Lincoln High School. ″I just go day to day. That’s one reason I’m here today. You guys have a bright future. You need to make sure it stays that way.″

Michele Crouch, 17, took the advice to heart.

″Just because he has AIDS, you can talk to him and be in the same room, and you won’t get it,″ she said. ″I also learned you have to protect yourself. If you don’t know where someone’s been, you don’t want to be with them.″

The discussion was part of a program of four sessions for 10th-graders. Participation requires parental approval.

The first part, led by a medical student, teaches facts about acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The second looks at students’ fears about the disease and those who have it; the third features one of 18 trained people with AIDS talking with students; and the fourth is a discussion of that visit.

Christian Haren - an ex-model, eighth-grade dropout and AIDS victim - said he encountered resistance to the program from school officials worried about parental opposition.

But he said Superintendent Ramon Cortines approved the idea last spring.

Haren said in addition to helping teach teen-agers how to combat the spread of AIDS, the program is a boost to AIDS sufferers.

″These people have nothing to live for,″ he said. ″They are all set to die, but here they’ve gotten off their couches and are out in the schools giving of themselves.″

AIDS attacks the body’s immune system. There is no known cure. It is spread most often through sexual contact, needles or syringes shared by drug abusers, infected blood or blood products, and from pregnant women to their offspring.

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