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by Abigail Van Buren

Aids Still Taking Its Toll on the Young and Reckless

DEAR ABBY: Three weeks ago, I laid my beautiful 21-year-old daughter to rest. The cause of death: AIDS. A parent could not have wished for a more loving, talented and motivated child. In the recklessness of youth, she engaged in unprotected sex. By the time she was diagnosed, she had been HIV-positive for at least four years and already had full-blown AIDS. By then she had met a young man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life, and although they always used a condom, he, too, became infected.

Never did I think that AIDS would touch my family. You cannot imagine the toll this has taken on our entire family. She had three younger siblings, the youngest being 11 years old. Our heartbreak and sorrow have been overwhelming. I have seen the hopes, dreams and brilliant future of one of the true joys of my life destroyed. Seeing her gradually waste away to a mere shadow of the vivacious, outgoing young woman she once was, is the saddest thing I have ever experienced. She fought so hard to live; she suffered terribly in the last few months of her life.

Her death was so unnecessary, but now it must have meaning. No one can be too careful in this day and age. Each of us takes risks every day. Many of us do not pay any consequences for our risk-taking, while some pay a very high price for their actions.

Please print this letter in the hope that others may be spared her fate. This message is so important: Sex just isn't worth dying for! -- CATHERINE MENZIES, FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

DEAR CATHERINE: I offer my deepest sympathy on the tragic loss of your beloved daughter.

Condoms, when used properly, can significantly reduce the risk of contracting most sexually transmitted diseases, but they are not 100 percent effective. Even though there are exciting new developments in AIDS treatment, your letter -- and thousands of others that could be written -- clearly demonstrates the epidemic is far from over.

More than 30,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV every year. This letter should serve as a wake-up call.

DEAR ABBY: Will you please publish this letter? It's about my wife. She talks too much.

My job requires me to bring work home. Our house needs a lot of attention, too. When I try to work, my wife is always there with a steady stream of questions or trivial conversation. When I sit down to read, I read in minute-and-a-half blocks of time because I know she will interrupt me. Even when she isn't in the room, I can hear her talking, yelling or complaining in a tone that can't be ignored. I suppose I should feel grateful that she wants to talk to me. But Abby, the truth is, I need my peace and quiet.

I have tried to discuss this with her, but it only upsets her. When I talk, she usually interrupts. What's ironic is that a woman she works with has the same habit -- and my wife complains about HER. This may seem funny, but my job is slipping and our house looks like heck. -- NO PEACE IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR NO PEACE: It doesn't sound funny to me. Your wife is a compulsive talker. Since she ignores your needs and becomes defensive when you try to discuss it with her, the situation can only degenerate. Couples counseling might help you get the message across.

Until then, consider a work area where you can concentrate -- preferably a room with a lock on the door.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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