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Nor will we be able to prepare adequately for future demands for hospital beds and health-care services.

As we write, the number of diagnosed AIDS cases in the United States is more than 100,000.

Public discussion concerning HIV has intensified in the last two years, and new facts, fears, and initiatives have emerged. Since many people are infected with HIV for long periods before showing symptoms of AIDS, health officials still do not know the current extent of the epidemic.

The teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the Church's evangelizing mission.

In this respect, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is similar to outbreaks of other, nonfatal diseases transmitted by particular kinds of behavior.

It is of critical importance to recognize the shift of the disease to economically disadvantaged populations. The figures are even more striking for women with AIDS, some 52 percent of whom are African American and 20 percent Hispanic, and for children with the disease (80 percent African American or Hispanic).

In the opinion of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), AIDS may become predominantly a minority disease. population, respectively, they currently account for a disproportionate 24 percent and 14 percent of the reported U. There is a clear connection between these figures and the fact that, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an estimated 70 percent of the nation's 1.28 million intravenous addicts are African American or Hispanic.

It is our hope that these reflections will stimulate discussion and foster understanding of the ethical and spiritual dimensions of the HIV crisis. The Church's Concern As we enter more deeply into the public dialogue regarding HIV infection, we are conscious of the social responsibility of the Church. As many as 54,000 Americans may die from AIDS during 1991 alone.

We speak conscious of the interest and discussion occasioned by the release in 1987 of There are good reasons for doing so. In his encyclical letter On Social Concern, Pope John Paul II speaks of it in these terms: [T]he Church is an "expert in humanity," and this leads her necessarily to extend her religious mission to the various fields in which men and women expend their efforts . More accurate statistical systems to monitor HIV infection are badly needed.

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