Dear Ann Landers: I am writing about the letter from “Judy in Santa Rosa.” She had asked Howard, her special friend, to take an AIDS test, as she had done, and share the results with her. He became indignant and said he would never think of asking her for a “health certificate” and that she should trust him enough to know he would never have sex with a woman who wasn’t “decent.”
I was enraged when I read his response. I had just heard a similar statement where I work. Tell me, Ann, does the AIDS virus know how to differentiate a “decent” person from one who is not “decent”? My sister, who was decent, died May 10, 1986, from AIDS. It is very difficult for me to understand why society does not have a better understanding of this disease. Most people who know me don’t know about my sister. I do not wish to explain how or why she became infected, nor do I want my sister to be judged. Please educate the public. - C.G.R.
Dear C.G.R.: I’ve been doing my best to educate the public since 1983, just after the illness was first identified. Family members of AIDS victims have a difficult enough time without the added burden of public condemnation.
While there is still no cure, drug companies around the world have done a splendid job of developing medication that keeps the virus from replicating. Consequently, AIDS patients are living longer, and the quality of their lives is greatly improved. Let’s hope and pray the next step will be a cure.
Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a letter from “Roanoke,” whose mother rented apartments to disabled people receiving government assistance. “Roanoke” was annoyed that these people didn’t have jobs. The implication was that they were lazy. Your reply, “There are many fine folks who need government assistance, and they aren’t lazy,” was right on target.
While there are a few gold-brickers, as you call them, the majority of people with disabilities who apply for assistance have no other option. Many claimants have severe physical problems that keep them from working or even caring for themselves at home. Others do work and use government assistance to help pay for medical or in-home care for themselves or their children.
For many individuals and families, the assistance doesn’t even cover basic needs. As of December 1994, there were 473,139 Illinoisans receiving Social Security disability benefits, and the average monthly benefit amount was $370.15.
If you asked people with disabilities if they would rather have full-time employment or government assistance, most would choose employment because it leads to productivity and economic independence. Let’s hope the renters at “Roanoke’s” apartment building are in training so they can find jobs where the employer looks beyond the disability and sees instead the abilities. - Audrey McCrimon, director, Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services
Dear Audrey McCrimon: I, too, believe most people want to work. How else do you account for those long lines that form at dawn when job openings are announced? Work means dignity and self-respect. Let’s give ‘em a break.
Dear Ann Landers: One of your readers recently asked if you believed in heaven and hell. Let me tell you hell is real. I’ve been there. All I have to do is pick up a drink, and I’m on my way again. - An Alcoholic
Dear Friend: You and millions. The solution, as you know, is to stay away from that first one.