The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, March 22, 1993, Image 9

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Monday, March 22,1993
The Battalion
—-.f ». .f
Page 9
Should the 10-minute AIDS test be
implemented as standard procedure?
Because of the
rapidly increasing
number of report
ed AIDS cases in
the United States,
the proposed 10-
minute AIDS test is
a good idea. Based
on the speed with
which results can
be obtained, this
test will encourage
many people to get
tested for HIV who
otherwise may not
have been tested.
The World
Health Organiza
tion has estimated
that over 10 million people in the world
have AIDS. Since the first case of AIDS
was reported in 1981, there have been
over 230,179 cases of AIDS in the United
States, according to the Center for Dis
ease Control (CDC).
Texas is ranked fourth for having the
highest number of Alf3^dasbs. A little
doser to hom£, Dallafs'Is ranked 12th and
Houston is ranked fourth as having the
nation's highest number of reported
AIDS cases according to the Oaklawn
Community Services.
To combat the spread of AIDS, the
government has been providing AIDS
tests. The first test, the Elisa, screens the
blood to check for HIV antibodies. If the
test is positive, then a more intensive test
called the Western Blot test is performed.
If the Western Blot test is positive, then
the person is considered to have the HIV
virus which may lead to AIDS. If the per
son tests negative to these tests, then no
HIV antibodies have been found. How
ever, these tests may not detect the AIDS
virus for six to eight weeks from the time
of exposure.
The Elisa test takes from one week to
10 days for results. Health officials say
this delay discourages some people from
taking the test. If a person who is infect
ed with AIDS waits to take the test, then
he or she may risk giving the AIDS virus
to someone else. The delay also prevents
the person from obtaining the proper
medical care needed to combat the AIDS
virus. This delay needs to be minimized
so that more people will agree to be test
Last year, a new AIDS test was ap
proved by the federal government. This
new test is similar to the Elisa test, but
takes only 10 minutes to get the results
instead of one week. The Dallas County
Health Department was selected by the
CDC to be the first agency to run the trial
AIDS test. However, just because the test
results will only take 10 minutes to obtain
does not mean that the people can avoid
getting the necessary AIDS counseling.
The Dallas County Health Department
has said that they will counsel people be
fore and after each AIDS test is per
The reduction in waiting time will not
only increase the number of people who
take the test, but will also ease some of
the stress related to the waiting time. As
one volunteer at Oaklawn Community
Services said, "When a person is waiting
for the test results, it is as if their life is on
hold; so by cutting the waiting time, you
cut out a lot of the stress of the un
The new 10-
minute AIDS test
could possibly en
danger lives rather
than save them by
luring people into
a false sense of se
curity and by sac
rificing safety for
the sake of expedi
Currently, the
AIDS test takes an
average one to two
weeks to obtain
the results. During
that time, the per
son who wishes to
be tested under
goes intensive pre-test and post-test
counseling on HIV awareness and pre
vention. In addition, patients are given a
risk assessment and are confronted with
questions about how they will react to an
HIV-positive test result. Patients are
asked to consider the real possibility that
they may have HIV and are then given
information on early intervention and
support services. The pre-test and post
test counseling usually last around 30
minutes each.
Though the new "McTest" promises to
encourage more people to be tested based
on its quick returns, one wonders
whether the 10-minute test can offer com
parable counseling in a shorter amount of
time. Any procedure based on the bene
fits of expediency can't possibly cover the
extent of information discussed through
current testing practices. The quickie test
would obviously lose its appeal to the
one-stop shopping contingent if an addi
tional chunk of time were tacked on for
discussion and meditation.
In addition, the quickie test has a high
possibility of returning both false posi
tives and false negatives. Current testing
practices are almost fail safe: When the
blood sample is in the lab, it is subjected
twice to the Elisa test in the event of an
initial positive. If the second Elisa test is
positive, the sample is then immediately
given a Western Blot test. These three
tests could not be performed during the
10-minute "McTest" and therefore would
not be as reliable as the current one to
two week process.
Reliability raises another deadly issue.
There is a distinct possibility that a pa
tient could panic after receiving a false
positive from the 10-minute test. People
have been known to commit suicide after
receiving HIV-positive results from their
tests. Imagine the consequences in the
case of a false positive. More dangerous
is the possibility of the false sense of se
curity that a false negative could bring.
Though high-risk behavior is deadly in
any circumstance, an HIV-positive person
could continue engaging in that behavior
after receiving a false negative and could
endanger countless other lives.
In addition, the time element involved
in the current test provides a hidden ben
efit. The week spent sweating out the
test results is a painful week of uncertain
ty that is more of a scare tactic than any
HIV/AIDS awareness program. It's an
experience that can't be conveyed in 10
minutes. The questionable reliability of
the new quickie "McTest" and the sacri
fices made for its cherished expediency
will probably hurt more than it can help.
Opinion Editor
Holder is a senior journalism major. Feducia is a senior English major.
Editonab appearing in The Battalion reflect the views of the editorial board only. They do not necessarily reflect the opnions of
other Battalion staff members, the Texas A&M student body, regents, administration, faculty or staff.
Columns, guest columns, and Mail CaS items express the opinions of the authors only.
The Battalion encourages letters to the edior and w9 print as many as space allows in the Mcri CaS section. Letters must be 300
words or less and include the author's name, doss, and phone number.
Due to space restrictions, guest columns wS not be accepted unless the author contacts the opinion page for prior approval
before submitting columns.
We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, and accuracy.
Letters should be addressed to:
The Battalion - Moil Call
OT 3 Reed McDonald /Mai stop 1111
Texas A&M University
Coiege Station, TX 77843
As if I had nothing better to do...
A journey deep inside the bowels of the Quack Shack
Spring is in the air, which means it's
also in the nasal passages.
While spring is the season of love, it's
also the season of pollen. And for aller
gy sufferers like myself, spring means
hay fever. When blossoms start to rise,
so does my temperature. And it never
fails, there are always two mid-terms
the very week you fall ill. So in order to
keep from lapsing into pneumonia
while you're cramming for that chem
test, you have to see the doctor.
At Texas A&M, that means visiting
the A.R Beutel Health Center, affection
ately known as the "Quack Shack." The
Shack is an intriguing place, to say the
I entered the premises hoping to re
ceive reasonably efficient treatment for my routine cold. At the
front desk, the kind woman told me to fill out a form inquiring
about my name, age, medical history, blood type, major credit
card number and any prior arrests.
"Thank you," the kind woman said. "Please have a seat in
the waiting room. It won't be but a moment."
The people packed into the many Quack Shack waiting
rooms had illnesses ranging from ingrown toenails to malaria.
But each seemed to be waiting patiently for his or her turn to
receive the best medical care. So I sat down next to a fellow
cold victim who looked as if he would lapse into a coma at any
moment. He was fascinated by the overhead television which
was showing "The Price Is Right." Ethel, the portly waitress
from Tulsa, was just about to win the dinette set in the Clock
Game when...
"Whitley, Chris?" called a student worker with file in hand.
"Right this way."
Not too bad, I thought. I've only been waiting five minutes
and already they're taking care of me. Talk about service. We
walked down the hall to another waiting room where a crowd
of people were lying in agony.
"Just wait right here, and we'll be with you in one mo
ment." One moment lasted about 30 minutes, and this time
there was no television set.
"Whitley, Chris?" called the nurse.
"Right this way."
The nurse took me to a literal hole in the wall to find out
more about my symptoms. Have I had a fever? Have I been
coughing? Have I had headaches, dizziness, nausea, asthma,
arthritis or inflamed genitals?
She told me that my symptoms pointed to an upper respira
tory infection, an important-sounding term for a cold. Then,
she instructed me to go back in the waiting room and wait for
a real doctor to see me.
If there is a hell, it must be a waiting room. All you can do
is sit. Of course, you can entertain yourself by perusing the
pages of a 1977 Modem Health magazine or a pamphlet de
scribing 10 tips to prevent you from getting the disease you're
already sick with. As the hours passed, I'm was tempted to
ask if they have an extra sleeping bag when...
"Whitley, Chris?" What are they, dyslexic?
"Right this way."
A different nurse took me down the hall and around the
corner past several doctors' offices to — you guessed it — an
other waiting room. It's incredible how you come in feeling
sick, but by the time you spend all day being shuffled around
waiting rooms, you either get well or die.
I felt like I was about to have a stroke, and all I had was a
cold. Imagine if someone who was seriously ill had to go
through this. They'd only live to see two waiting rooms. The
lights were starting to fade, and I could feel myself gasping for
my last breath when...
"Whitley, Chris?"
"Please come in."
It was my doctor. A real M.D. No nurse. No student work
er. No overpaid bureaucrat. It was a real, honest-to-goodness
physician. I told her about all my symptoms, how I was near
collapse, and how I was fearing the worst until I finally made
it into her office.
"So what do you think. Doc? What's wrong with me?"
"You have a cold. Take this prescription downstairs."
On the verge of breakdown, I descended to the basement
where I found yet another group of people waiting for their
magic potions to be delivered. They were waiting to enter
these little booths at the edge of the pharmacy. One by one,
students entered into the booths when called and walked out
carrying drugs. What's the big secret? Are these people get
ting penicillin or crack?
"Whitley, Chris.. .Booth one, please."
Fearing that I might be caught in a drug bust, I crept in and
found the pharmacist there with my medicine. It took two
hours, four waiting rooms and treatment from a staff of thou
sands, but I got my medicine, and I got well.
So all in all, the Quack Shack is not a bad place to go when
you're a patient. But it is when you're impatient.
Whitley is a junior journalism major.
Now is not
the time xor
U.S. ittiliLwy
in Bosnia..
with the bulk
of our forces
tied up by a
relidiouS cult
in Texas
Knowing when to
say when with beer
I am writing in response to Mark
Magee's letter about college drinking on
March 9. First of all, if he thinks that
Texas A&M is the only school which la
bels itself the "Beer drinking capital of
the world," he is sadly mistaken. I have
attended UT at Austin and Stephen F.
Austin State University, and both of those
schools - at least certain people in those
schools - boast of the same "drinking
capital" title. Probably the only schools
which don't jokingly brag about their
drinking are Ivy League schools.
Secondly, drinking only on the week
ends, sobering up on Sunday and getting
back to business by Sunday night doesn't
necessarily damage grades and deter
from making lifetime friends and com
mitments during college. The secret is
knowing w\hen to party and when to
study. I have met many friends over a
beer and have made lifetime commit
ments at school during the week.
Magee's argument weakens when he
only discusses drinking on th§^weekends.
I would agree that when one moves
drinking outside of the weekends, one's
college career is placed in jeopardy.
Finally, I think Magee left otit one very
important item on his list of what college
is supposed to be about, and that item is
fun. Maybe it's low on the list, but I still
think fun should be included. After alb
these are the best years of our lives.
Jeff Whitney
Class of '94
Some clarifications
on military contracts
This letter is in response to 2nd Lt.
Michael Buck's letter printed in the
March 9 Battalion. As a captain in the
Army Reserves, I feel that some of his
"truths" need to be enlightened.
First of all, no one made Buck sign a
contract and nothing, not even his con
tract, is keeping him in the National
Guard. If Buck does not wish to remain
in the Guard, he should resign his com
mission, but he should not distort reality.
Buck mentioned that a cadet would re
ceive $1800 in the form of a loan, instead
of a grant, if the cadet does not sign a
There's a big difference between these
two types of financial aid. A loan must
be paid back with interest accrued; a
grant is free money.
Additionally Buck stated that an offi
cer can lose up to 30 days of active duty
pay if equipment is lost. He also men
tioned that accountability is difficult.
This is true, but that is why officers make
the "big bucks": to ensure that our na
tion's tax dollars are accounted for. Good
officers make the system work by teach
ing equipment discipline.
Finally, regarding annual training, the
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Act is a fed
eral law requiring civilian employers to
give time for this training. This is non-
paid leave for service, not paid vacation
tiffte, and Buck should let his employer
kfiow about this legislation.
To those cadets who are considering a
contract, a career in the military is a great
way to serve this country, learn responsi
bility and practice leadership. For those
individuals with dedication and forti
tude, serving the military has life long re
Robert K. Fogtman
Graduate Student