Survey: 1 in 500 College Students May Have Been Exposed to AIDS

May 31, 1989 1 min read

The first large study of the prevalence of aids on college campuses has found that about one in every 500 students tested had been exposed to the virus that causes the deadly disease.

If the results of the study at 19 schools were accurate for all college campuses, researchers said last week, then about 25,000 of the country’s 12.5 million college students would test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus, or hiv

The study, which was conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association, did not include the ages of the 30 students, out of the 16,861 students sampled, who tested positive for exposure to hiv

But researchers said that it would be reasonable to assume that some of the infected college students had been exposed to the disease while they were still in high school.

Because of this, said Helene Gayle, a cdc epidemiologist who was responsible for the survey, both colleges and elementary- and secondary-schools should place a greater emphasis on aids education.

“Our ideas about sex and sexual behavior start pretty early,” she said in an interview. “We cannot ex8pect to have an impact on this epidemic unless we start with elementary- and secondary-school students.’'

Ms. Gayle said that the infection rate found in the study was comparable to rates found by the cdc among hospitalized patients and among women giving birth, although slightly higher than the infection rate reported for military recruits.

The researchers anonymously tested blood samples taken from students who had sought care at their colleges’ health centers for various purposes.

In a related development, theel10lcdc last week unveiled a public-information program designed to encourage parents to speak to their children about aids

The campaign includes a special guide that tells adults how to present age-appropriate information about the disease to children from the upper elementary grades through high school.

The guide also contains a sheet containing answers to common questions about aids.

The “aids Prevention Guide” is available for free by calling the National aids Hotline at (800) 342-aids.--ef

A version of this article appeared in the May 31, 1989 edition of Education Week as Survey: 1 in 500 College Students May Have Been Exposed to AIDS