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Salaries for teachers in the nation's public schools increased an average of 5 percent last school year, the smallest gain in 18 years, according to an analysis by the American Federation of Teachers.

The union's annual report, "Survey & Analysis of Salary Trends 1991," concludes that teachers' real earnings declined after eight straight years of growth.

The average salary for 1990-91 was $32,880, the survey said, and beginning teachers earned an average of $21,542, an increase of 4.9 percent over the previous year.

The average teacher last year had 15.9 years of experience, compared with an average of 10 years in 1976, the survey showed.

After adjusting for differences due to experience, the average teacher makes $4,525 less today than in 1976, the report says.

"The past five years show that average teacher salaries have grown, but at a very slow pace," F. Howard Nelson, associate director of the A.?.T. research department, said in a statement.

Average inflation-adjusted earnings have increased only slightly over the past two school years, Mr. Nelson said, and are only some $1,000 higher than 1972 levels.

Even ff the recession that has put a lid on salary increases were to end quickly, teacher salaries probably would not rebound immediately, the survey said.

"All indications are that the salary increases will be even worse next year," Mr. Nelson said.

Alaska had the highest average salary ($43,406), while South Dakota had the lowest ($22,363). Salaries were highest in the Northeast and Midwest, and on the West Coast.

Copies of the report are available for $5 each from the A.F.T. research department, 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

Unless the treatment and prevention of AIDS becomes a higher national priority, the United States can expect "relentless, expanding tragedy in the decades ahead," the National Commission on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome warned in a report last week.

The 165-page report, "America Living with AIDS," contains 30 recommendations, including calls for a comprehensive national prevention and treatment strategy, universal health-care coverage, Medicaid reforms, greater priority and funding for research, and the decriminalization of the purchase and possession of drug-injection equipment.

The study advises that the reality of teenage sexuality needs to be addressed even with young children. Information on teenage sex, the panel said, should include advice on abstinence as well as "frank talk" about AIDS and about how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.

"Adolescents need clear, realistic, unequivocal prevention messages about the risks of H.L.V. transmission associated with unprotected sexual activity, sharing of injection equipment, and sexual activity in conjunction with substance abuse," the study said.

The 15-member bipartisan commission also said that schools should be among the settings where community-based H.I.V.-prevention strategies are offered, and that teenage members of minority groups should receive "special attention" to ensure they know what places them at risk for transmission of the AIDS virus.

Vol. 11, Issue 05

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