updated 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
After reading your article, I believe I may be the only woman who has actually stopped having sex because of the AIDS crisis (PEOPLE, March 14). I was shocked, disappointed and saddened to read that most of the other young women you interviewed actually rely on intuition and condoms as protection against sure death.
It's time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Self-pity has no place in the face of such a horrible epidemic. I am one of those young women who had to change my sexual habits in light of AIDS, but it was with no remorse. I rejoiced that I was lucky enough not to have been one of the unfortunate victims who caught this killer before there were proved methods of prevention. Don't fool yourselves; instead, realize that for the price of a condom you could save your life.
Christine C. Chandler
Somewhere around 30,000 people in our nation have died of AIDS, and still the "religious right" has the final say in whether or not we should teach our youngsters about condoms, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in school. Nobody wants to teach children to be immoral, we just want to keep them alive. Besides, if Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart can't behave themselves, can we really expect some teenage boy to?
One of the women in the article stated that the risk factor is lower among divorced men just out of a 15-year marriage. More often than not, the reason these men are now divorced is for not being faithful to their wives. Some of them have a track record that would put any day-or nighttime soap opera to shame.
Anne M. Nordahl
I am male, 28 years old and a virgin. In the early '80s, just before the big AIDS scare began, many women regarded me as some kind of weird freak because of my sexual abstinence. Today, when I thought I would be held in high esteem, I am still regarded as a weird freak. Perhaps as the years go by and as the disease statistics rise in the heterosexual community, both women and men will understand that celibacy outside of marriage is the real definition of the term safe sex.
A man I know who ignored the dangers of getting AIDS and refused to buy condoms because, he said, "it would ruin my image," is dying of AIDS at the age of 22. Now he is angry because, he says, "I should have listened to the facts." I just thank my lucky stars for my husband-to-be. Those of you who are single, play it safe. One night isn't worth your life.
Being a theater lover, I always got sad thinking of the great stage performances I'd never get to see: Ethel Merman in Gypsy, Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in anything. Watching Michael Crawford in Phantom of the Opera is seeing history in the making, something to tell my future children and grandchildren. I'm finally in the right decade and the right place at the right time. Mr. Crawford and the Phantom are just blocks away from me now, and I can think of no better way to spend my savings than seeing him again and again in this wonderful musical.
Holly Emily Caster
New York City
Many thanks for the article on Phantom star Michael Crawford. I am too far away from New York in both miles and money to hope to see his performance in person, so I must content myself with the breathtaking cast album. Crawford's devotion to and respect for his role is evident even if one can only listen to him play it.
Kathryn M. Jordan
On June 5, 1985, I walked into the local Consumer Credit Counseling Service office and turned in my credit cards. They cut them up and I haven't charged since. I had run them up to the limits on three separate occasions. Each time I either got a bill-consolidation loan and paid them off or borrowed from my parents. I'd like to thank Miss Reilly for sharing her story. Although it was too late for me, perhaps young people just starting out will read it and learn something from it. Credit is a privilege that must be handled responsibly. Once it becomes an addiction, you will pay for it for a very long time.
Thanks for the article on Jean Reilly. It reminded me, and many others I'm sure, of how plastic can destroy your life. I'm 19 and just started getting numerous credit cards. The urge to purchase all the things you've always dreamed of having is very difficult to overcome. My debts are no way near Jean's but are close to getting out of hand for my budget. Reading about Jean Reilly's mistake helped prevent me from making my own.
How sad that there are still people like fur trapper Jim Smith who feel that "pain is pain" when it comes to trapping animals. He admits to being bent on slaughter. Trapping, "because that's what he knows how to do," is no excuse for killing what wildlife we have left. There are kinder ways to make a living.