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Although most high-school students understand that aids is transmitted by sexual intercourse and by sharing needles for drug use, many also mistakenly believe that the disease can be caught by donating blood or by using public toilets, a new study has found.

The study, completed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, questioned 9th- through 12th-grade students in 24 states and local districts. The percentage of stu6dents in different areas who knew that the disease is spread sexually ranged from 88 percent to 98 percent, while between 83 percent and 98 percent recognized the role of intravenous drugs.

But substantial numbers of students also saw dangers in casual contacts. Anywhere from 28 percent to 53 percent said they believed they could get the disease by donating blood, and between 42 percent and 65 percent expressed concern about public rest rooms. Up to 10 percent said that they could become infected by shaking hands with a carrier of aids.

Many students also said they believed that they could be exposed to the virus by insect bites or by having a blood test.

The Bush Administration should create a National Youth Cabinet to address such issues as child care, health, and education, declares a policy statement adopted by the National League of Cities last week.

The organization suggested that the new Cabinet-level working group include the secretaries of labor, education, agriculture, health and human services, and housing and urban development.

The nlc also called for establishment of an advisory panel composed of national experts on youth-related issues.

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