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Students on Break

January 17, 1988

I was at the presentation by U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop at San Diego State University on Tuesday.

The article in The Times on Jan. 14 ("Few SDSU Students Show Up for Koop's AIDS, Safe Sex Talk") was factual. What caught my attention was the direction of the article--a review of the surgeon general's comments as if they were intended for students instead of the actual audience.

The audience of upper-middle-class professionals and academics was appropriate for Dr. Koop's lecture. He modeled clear and positive language and attitudes in discussing AIDS. People who must deal with budgets, health care and counseling, and the uncertainty and fear of the "at risk" population received excellent lessons in how to view AIDS and the social considerations involved in planning. Dr. Koop squarely addressed serious values questions in our culture as a result of AIDS. He brought forth for discussion the possibility that several decades of social justice efforts might be reversed because of the escalation of AIDS among blacks and Hispanics. He was honest about the need for education, the effectiveness of education when used, and the lack of an immediate scientific/technical answer to AIDS.

If Dr. Koop had been invited to talk to students, I'm sure the presentation would have been arranged for a time when the university's 34,000 students were on campus instead of during the winter break.

Thank you for allowing me to express a different perspective of what happened. The reporter evidently was looking for something which did not happen.

SANDRA PHELPS

San Diego

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