The primary response of La Salle University to the epidemic of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection must be educational. The American College Health Association recommends that the organization and implementation of effective educational programs about AIDS and HIV infection be an activity of the highest priority for all institutions of higher learning. In designing the format and content of educational programs, it is important to recognize and address the rich diversity of people in the campus community and to provide opportunities for effective learning by people of any age, ability, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious commitment.
Because there is neither a vaccine to prevent HIV infection nor curative therapy for persons infected with HIV, the most pressing need for institutions is to implement programs which increase awareness and provide education to prevent further spread of the virus. Comprehensive educational programs must address undergraduate and graduate students and should reach not only residential students, but also commuters and non-traditional students. Furthermore, La Salle should offer similar educational opportunities for all University personnel.
The epidemic of HIV infection also raises issues of liability. The most effective means of addressing these issues at present is to educate students and employees about HIV infection and AIDS and to take such reasonable precautions as suggested herein.
Educational programs also are of paramount importance in the institution’s responsibility to protect the student body and staff from the transmission of HIV. As medical evidence consistently indicates that no actual safety risks are created in the usual workplace or academic setting, La Salle University can best render enrollment or employment safe and healthful through effective education and training programs.
The programs of education by La Salle University should emphasize the following:
- Abstinence from sexual activity as well as avoidance of intravenous drug use are the surest ways to prevent the spread of HIV infection.
- Among people who choose to be sexually active, the consistent and conscientious use of latex condoms reduces the chance of transmission of HIV through sexual intercourse.
- Intoxication by alcohol or other drugs has been shown to lower inhibitions and cloud judgment in making decisions about sexual risk-taking and sharing needles during illicit drug use. This leaves persons open to exposure to the HIV virus.
- Even though they may not have symptoms, persons with HIV infection may transmit the virus to others through intimate sexual contact or exposure to blood.
- The sharing of needles used in the injection of illicit drugs is extremely high-risk behavior for transmitting the HIV virus. Shared needles used to inject steroids may transmit HIV as well.
- Persons with documented HIV infection should not donate blood plasma, sperm, or other body organs or tissues.
- People with HIV infection pose no risk of transmitting the virus to others through ordinary, casual interpersonal contact.
- It is possible that certain interventions and therapies may help limit the consequences of HIV infection among people already infected. People who know they have been infected may thus benefit from regular medical follow-up and immunologic evaluation.