8 MONTROSE VOICE / OCTOBER 4, 1985
Gaping Hole in AIDS Defense Line
from page 1
example, Abrams tells of a health-care
worker who stuck himself with a needle from
a patient who had both AIDS and hepatitis.
"He got hepatitis but he hasn't contracted
AIDS. Moreover, his AIDS antibody test
never turned positive," something experts
say happens within eight to 12 weeks after
becoming infected with the virus.
If knowing these and other facts is our
best defense against AIDS, why has no
agency assumed responsibility for coordinating a carefully planned and executed
campaign to educate all segments of
Perhaps it is because AIDS encompasses subjects that still make many of us
uncomfortable. Sexuality, death, and
dying, says Holly Smith of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, are three of the
most sensitive and difficult subjects for
people to confront.
Perhaps, as Dr. Conant suggests, it is
also because editors refused to heed what
their reporters were telling them. "I know
for a fact that a lot of reporters were on top
of this story from the beginning. ... But a
lot of editors pushed it aside, either
because they thought it was a 'gay disease' or because they didn't think one
should discuss topics such as anal intercourse in a family newspaper or on television.
But the biggest stumbling block has
been the failure of government at all levels
to deal head-on with educating the public
about the AIDS epidemic.
Only about four percent of the federal
government's 1985 AIDS budget of nearly
$100 million targets public education—
nowhere near adequate to the task, as the
government's own Office of Technology
Assessment itself has concluded.
Dr. Harold Jaffe of the Centers for Disease Control agrees that education right
now represents the only weapon we have
against AIDS, and that more money is
necessary—money he anticipated would
be forthcoming with the backing of Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler.
(However, Heckler resigned her position
as head of HHS this past week.)
For some the infusion of dollars will
come late. Ryan White, the Kokomo, Indiana, youngster who is battling AIDS and
his local school board, is perhaps the most
visible victim of public fear. But countless
AIDS victims have already been isolated
from mainstream society. Many have
died, isolated even from their family and
To date, efforts to reduce public fears
through education have been catch-as-
catch-can. Nor does the public appear to be
reassured by those official pronouncements that have been made, even those of
Children with AIDS are being cast out by society
Some experts believe the problem
involves the way doctors and scientists
talk about AIDS; their choice of terms,
some say, frequently heightens rather
than allays public fears.
Every time they say there doesn't
"appear" to be any evidence that AIDS
can be casually transmitted, or that
"under most circumstances" children
aren't at risk if they attend school with an
AIDS victim, what the public hears is
"appears" and "under most circumstances." Those aren't the strongest of terms,
explains Dr. Jay Winsten, director of the
Office of Health Policy Information at the
Harvard School of Public Health.
Says Conant, "There are very few
things in medicine that are 100%, and the
words we use reflect that fact. In the case
of AIDS, we use words like 'appears' and
'based on the available evidence' not
because there is a lack of evidence but
because we are behaving as responsible
There will, of course, never be guarantees that what is fact today won't become
discarded theory or a fallacy tomorrow.
And there will always be some people who
will refuse to be reassured.
Nevertheless, as Conant believes, the
only thing to do is to mount an effective
educational effort. "Whether or not we
stem the rising tide of fear will depend to a
large extent on whether we make this
effort a top priority, not just in words but
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A Sacramento, Calif., court has ruled that
Rev. Jerry Falwell must pay a former college classmate $5000 as a result of a promise he made last year.
On Sept. 25, Sacramento Municipal
Court Judge Michael S. Ullman awarded
the Rev. Jerry Sloan $5000 as a result of a
lawsuit he filed against Falwell when Falwell refused to fulfill a promise of a "contract" he made with Sloan.
The basis of the lawsuit was a confrontation between Falwell and Sloan on a live
Sacramento television talk show on
On the July 13,1984, show, Sloan asked
Falwell about some remarks he made on
his "Old Time Gospel Hour" broadcast
concerning the Metropolitan Community
Church. In his broadcast, Falwell said the
church was "A brute beast ... A vile and
Satanic system" ... which would "one
day be utterly annihilated and there
would be a celebration in heaven!" The
Metropolitan Community Church is a
Christian church which ministers to the
gay and lesbian community. Approximately 85% of its membership is gay.
Falwell vigorously denied the statements on the KCRA program, saying it
was an "absolute lie!"
Sloan countered by saying he possessed
a tape of Falwell making the statements.
Falwell continued to deny the statements, saying that such a tape didn't
exist. He then challenged Sloan to produce
the tape, saying he would give Sloan $5000
to produce the tape.
Within a week, Sloan took two tapes to
KCRA. One was a tape which Sloan made
of the "Old Time Gospel Hour" and the
other tape was a tape produced by Falwell's own organization, which Sloan
obtained by sending $4 to Falwell's
Lynchburg, Va., address.
Sloan then had his attorney, Rosemary
Metrailer, write to Falwell asking for the
money. Falwell refused to do so.
When Falwell came to Sacramento on
September 30, 1984, as part of a fundraising tour, Sloan filed his suit and met Falwell with a subpoena as the television
evangelist's private jet landed at the
Judge Ullmlan heard the evidence of the
case on Sept. 13, 1985, and handed down
his decision on Sept. 24, awarding Sloan
the $5000 plus court costs and 7% interest
from July 18, 1984.
In his seven page opinion, Ullman
stated, "The defendant (Falwell) offered
$5000 to the plaintiff (Sloan) if he could
produce a tape; the plaintiff tendered the
tape almost immediately, binding the
plaintiff to his unilateral contract."
Sloan said, "I am elated at receiving a
favorable judgement. This is the very first
time Jerry Falwell has been held accountable in a court oflaw for what he has said.
He tried to squirm out of being responsible
for his vicious attack on the Metropolitan
Community Church, but now a judge has
said he did indeed make the statement and
now he must pay for trying to deny it."
Sloan is a former pastor of several Metropolitan Community churches and is
now president of the Lambda Community
Fund, a charitable organization which is
in the process of opening a gay and lesbian community center in Sacramento.
Sloan and Falwell were schoolmates in
the 1950s when they both attended Baptist
Bible College in Springfield, Mo.