Criticisms of AIDS-Related News Articles

* I'm writing in regard to an article that I was in ("Retreat From AIDS" Aug. 21). The caption beneath my picture referred to me as an AIDS victim. The article, I felt, portrayed me as a woman with no friends, all alone in this world due to being a victim of AIDS.

I feel a great injustice was done to myself and others who live with AIDS/HIV in a positive light.

First let me say that having this illness has never made me feel like a victim--I've chosen to take charge of my life and health in a positive manner since my diagnosis.

To describe myself as lonely isn't an accurate picture of who I am or why I went to the "Strength for the Journey Retreat." I am socially active, date a man who is also HIV positive, I'm an AIDS/HIV educator, I seek alternate therapies for my illness, I laugh, pray/meditate and try to live a balanced life. I also take full responsibility for my contracting the HIV.

AIDS/HIV can make you all alone in this world--especially if you keep it a secret and keep to yourself; that's why we have retreats, support groups, professional therapists and other people living with AIDS to talk with.

And that is the reason that I agreed to speak out in the article--to get the message across to people who are alone with AIDS/HIV that they need not be anymore.

AIDS is a shame-based illness unlike heart disease, cancer and others, and until the silence around AIDS/HIV or any other shame-based issue is broken and cut through it can and will cause extreme isolation to the person living with it.

My life is very full, productive and rich today because I have found a way spiritually to live in harmony and not in shame with my illness called AIDS.

SUSAN TIBBETTS

Laguna Beach

* I am upset with the Orange County Newswatch characterization ("Beat It" Sept. 14) of the success of Ken Jillson and Al Roberts AIDS Service Foundation fund-raiser to their acquaintance with the rich and famous. This denigrates their extraordinary efforts and those of the men, women and children who donate hundreds of hours of their time to making SPLASH a sold-out production.

All the proceeds from the event go directly to the charity which may be why Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson chose to contribute, as do many other individuals and businesses who are neither rich nor famous.

LEE GOODENOW

Coto de Caza

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