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Editorial HIV/AIDS and Deafness The American Annals of the Deaf is constituted as both a "scientific" and a "professional" journal. As such, it addresses a range of issues from the theoretical to the applied , including matters of social concern. Many of the articles that appear in the Annals reflect areas of importance that can affect all of us regardless of hearing status, gender, race, or social class. One of the most threatening of these is the haunting specter of HIV infection and AIDS. In some quarters there is a feeling that we have turned the corner, because the number of diagnoses of AIDS has been declining. This is a serious misconception for many reasons . The virus that causes AIDS can remain dormant for years before symptoms appear. The price in human suffering will be tragic for years to come. The price will be disproportionate for those in our population with insufficient or nonexistent knowledge of the various ways in which an individual may contract an HIV infection or how to prevent it. A population clearly at greater risk for exposure to the disease, as documented by articles in the Annals and elsewhere, may be found among deaf adolescents and young adults. Within the past five years, the Annals has published three articles on AIDS (Baker-Duncan, Dancer, Gentry, Highly, & Gibson, 1997; Deyo, 1994; Luckner & Gonzales, 1993)· These articles document a grim reality. To an even greater extent than in the general population, young deaf Americans exhibit what Luckner and Gonzales termed a disturbing gap in their knowledge of HIV infection, how AIDS is transmitted and prevented and who can acquire the disease. Results reported in the December, 1997 issue of the Annals by Baker-Duncan, et al starkly highlight the danger . On a 35 item Knowledge of AIDS questionnaire administered to deaf adolescents, fewer than one quarter of the questions were answered correctly by more than half of the students. Ignorance was shared by both males and females and there was little difference in scores from grade 9 to grade 12. As disturbing as the results are, the reality may be even worse. When the Baker-Duncan, et al manuscript was first submitted to the Annals, reviewers noted that of 43 schools for the deaf asked to participate, only five agreed and 38 did not, calling into question how representative the sample was of adolescent deaf students. There is the very real possibility that students in the programs that did not participate in the study have an even lower knowledge of AIDS than those who did participate. Also, quite possibly , some of the nonparticipating programs were threatened by the sensitive nature of the topic and may sweep it under the rug. Unfortunately, in this case, ignorance can be fatal. One source of information is the Deaf AIDS Core (DAC). It can be accessed through AIDS_HIV/. Donald F. Moores Editor Volume 143, No. 1, 1998 American Annals of the Deaf ...


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