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NEWSROOM for June 5, 2001

Aired June 5, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: It's Tuesday and this is CNN NEWSROOM -- welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes.

Here's a quick look at the rundown.

WALCOTT: In "Today's News," the 20th anniversary of the disease the world now knows as AIDS.

HAYNES: Then, in "Health Desk," how schools that were once dirty and dangerous are being transformed into an urban oasis.

WALCOTT: Next stop, the Middle East, for a look at a camp where Palestinian and Israeli young people learn to sow the seeds of peace.

HAYNES: We continue with our coverage of the AIDS crisis in "Chronicle" as we profile one man's 20-year struggle with the disease.

Twenty years ago this week, the first cases of AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome came to the public's attention. Since then, nearly 22 million people have died from the disease, 440,000 from the United States, but nearly three-fourths have died from AIDS in Africa. And right now, more than 25 million people there have HIV or AIDS. That's compared to nearly 900,000 people infected in the U.S.

AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. The disease ravages the immune system causing cancer and other serious infections. There is no cure and experts say it'll be years before there's a vaccine.

Christy Feig reports on the current status of AIDS and what the next decade may hold.

And a quick note: Due to the subject matter, teachers may want to prescreen this report.


CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are 80,000 names on the AIDS quilt, only a snapshot of the nearly 450,000 Americans who have died from the disease.

New infections aren't declining. In fact, recent reports show the disease is on the rise again in young gay men, the same group when AIDS first hit two decades ago.

CLEVE JONES, FOUNDER, AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT: Because they didn't experience what I experienced of walking out my door and seeing people dropping dead all around me, of going to funerals every day, of losing hundreds and hundreds of people, they don't understand that horror. They think it's a manageable, chronic condition.

FEIG: The development of drugs associated with AIDS took away the constant reminder that people were sick. Dr. Joel Weisman saw some of the first cases in Los Angeles. Now he's concerned that history may repeat itself in the next ten years.

DR. JOEL WEISMAN, RETIRED HIV PHYSICIAN: The virus is smarter than the drugs, and there will be an increased revolution to multi- drug resistant disease.

FEIG: The types of HIV intention that are already resistant to more than one drug are also on the rise. And some who have been in medicine for years are running out of options.

JONES: Even though I, who have never missed a dose in seven years of treatment, I've become resistant to every drug that is approved.

FEIG: The African-American community is also being hit hard. The CDC estimates that more than half of all new infections are in blacks, though they make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population.

BISHOP KWABENA RAINEY CHEEKS, INNER LIGHT UNITY FELLOWSHIP CHURCH: We're looking at, you know, losing an entire generation of people. So the church has got to wake up, and at least begin to talk about it.

FEIG (on camera): All agree, preventing new infection is the only way to break the cycle. Now 12 AIDS organizations have joined together, launching a new national prevention campaign called "20 Years of AIDS is Enough."

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington


HAYNES: A diagnosis of AIDS once meant a quick and certain death. But doctors and researchers have come a long way in learning about the disease and medical advances are leading to longer, healthier lives for people infected with HIV.

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at one man's ongoing battle with the disease and the drugs that are helping him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tony Braswell is living on borrowed time.

TONY BRASWELL, AIDS PATIENT: I had a good network of people who all said, given my health level, I should probably, you know, plan to die. I had four years to live, basically, -- four to five years to live.

GUPTA: That was 1989 when Braswell was diagnosed with HIV. At that time, doctors didn't have much help from medicine or much hope for their patients. Braswell resorted to ancient rituals.

BRASWELL: Kind of like walking on a sidewalk and if you don't hit the cracks, you know, you're OK. But all kinds of superstition, all kinds of deals with God.

GUPTA: Facing death, Tony remembers all the things in life he still had to do. In fact, he made a list.

BRASWELL: Visit every continent, which I've not finished yet. Make more money -- one of them was make more money than my age, which I finally got that taken care of. And then one of them was go to the softball World Series, which I did. And then one was to be in a Broadway play, and that one was just kind of fun, and sure enough, I've gotten that one done, too.

GUPTA: But the list grew longer, and Tony did better. It wasn't just luck or superstition. It was the medications.

DR. JIM CURRAN, EMORY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The drugs available for treating AIDS right now are nothing short of miraculous.

GUPTA: But it was a slow process. Twenty years ago, no one knew what was coming.

CURRAN: Even we didn't know that our warnings were really just very small whispers about the size of the problem that we were in the midst of.

GUPTA: Dr. Jim Curran led the Centers for Disease Control's first task force on what was later called "AIDS."

CURRAN: Mortality came rather quickly, and it was inevitable within a few months of the diagnosis of people.

GUPTA: The first promising drug? AZT in 1987. It took nearly 10 more years for the victories to come fast and furious. Heart therapy, also known as the "AIDS cocktail," has improved and prolonged the lives of numerous patients with AIDS.

CURRAN: With that came a huge amount of hope. People who were previously on their deathbeds, who were dying or suffering terribly from AIDS, had a hope now for not cure, but a recovery of their high- quality life.

GUPTA: Tony only wishes they would have come sooner for his former partner, Peter.

BRASWELL: He was a wonderful man, and the medicine got here a little bit too late for him.

GUPTA: And too late for many more.

(on camera): Today the hope lies in a possible AIDS vaccine, and, as many in the public health community say, in education and prevention. That's because it may take decades before it's possible to commemorate not the start of this disease, but the anniversary of its cure.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: Though school violence is still a problem in the U.S., it looks like a lot of schools are becoming safer. According to recent research, high school students carrying a weapon to school at least once a month dropped from 17 to 12 percent over the past five years. Students are also more likely to report feeling very safe at school.

Leading the trend of safer schools: Boston's Jeremiah Burke High School. Once a dangerous place, it's now a safe haven for students.

Bill Delaney reports on the transformation.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a high school deep in Boston's inner city, an arm around a shoulder, maybe even a shoulder to cry on, caring, that's transformed the place they call simply the Burke. Jeremiah Burke High School, once dirty, dangerous, dysfunctional, now an urban oasis where students say, unlike so many now at suburban schools, they feel safe and that each one of them matters.

KRYSTENA BRADSHAW, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I think basically that's why most of these shootings happen. They need attention, and that's what they're doing this for is for attention.

JEFFREY WILSON, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I feel that I can go to somebody and talk to them, if I'm about to have a conflict, you know what I'm saying. We seem to talk about it more.

DELANEY: A sanctuary, where talking, touching, that arm around the shoulder, and Principal Steve Leonard's tender toughness saved the disastrous school he took over six years ago.

(on camera): What was this place like when you got here, Steve?

STEVE LEONARD, PRINCIPAL: My first thought was that somebody should be in jail. It was very dangerous. There were incidents with knives, guns, gang violence, and all of those things were not conducive to anybody getting an education here. DELANEY (voice-over): Leonard imposed unprecedented structure to the school day with zero tolerance for serious misbehavior. And he swept out burned-out faculty, insisting everyone who worked for him keep an eagle eye on every kid.

LEONARD: You've got to make it a family environment. They've got to feel like this is a safe haven rather than a war zone.

DELANEY: Kareem Feagin's headed for college, despite struggling with a family from which several wound up in jail. A couple of years ago, he felt ready to drop-out of school.

KAREEM FEAGIN, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Even though I had that feeling, I was able to go to school, have conversations with the principal, the senior class representatives, and just different people, with teachers, to help me out.

DELANEY: Burke students have thoughts about why most school shootings happen in relatively safe, suburban communities. Like a bunch of sociologists, they blame a lack of supervision, and some suburban kids seeing violence as unreal, a video game.

RYSHONDA SINGLETARY, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I remember hearing gunshots outside my window a lot when I was growing up. And you see people fighting, you see people arguing, you see a lot of violence when you live in the inner-city.

DELANEY: Steve Leonard believes kids who kill simply weren't heard in time.

(on camera): How likely is it that a kid could just get away from you here, and seethe and boil as these kids seem to do?

LEONARD: The only way they can get away from us is don't come to school. And most of the time when they don't come to school, we go find them.

DELANEY (voice-over): In a part of the city most suburban parents long ago gave up on; a safe zone many suburban parents would give a lot for.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we look at the world through the eyes of the young. We'll head to Israel, site of tension and tragedy following the deaths of 20 young Israelis in a recent bombing. Violence in the Middle East is not new. We'll look back at a program attempting to sow the seeds of peace in the region. Plus, we head to Kenya where a group of young people are off the streets and building new lives.

But first, to Peru where voters have elected a new president. The election comes seven months after an authoritarian president, Alberto Fujimori, was driven from office in a corruption scandal. Lucia Newman reports on Peru's new leader.



LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jubilant supporters of Alejandro Toledo chanted the apples have spoken, referring to the ancient Inca gods. Indeed for millions of Peruvians of Andean Indian heritage, the country's majority, it's a victory of one of their own. The first democratically elected president of native Peruvian decent was something to celebrate.

ALEJANDRO TOLEDO, PERUVIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): I will not betray your confidence, said the once poor shoeshine boy turned Stanford-educated economist.

Earlier, his rival, former president Alan Garcia, conceded defeat saying he was willing to support the new government in order to build a better Peru.

Toledo himself promised to call on friends and foes alike -- Peru's best vines, he called them, to help build a consensus government.

TOLEDO: Peru is a country with many wounds open. I'd like to close it. I'd like to seal a lot of discrepancies that have emerged during this campaign.

NEWMAN: A campaign characterized by unlimited mudslinging that raised serious questions about the credibility of the new president- elect who won by only a slim margin.

ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA, FORMER TOLEDO ADVISER: I think that puts a lot of pressure on Toledo. He has to reduce the enormous skepticism that there is around him. He has to do against a very powerful leader of the opposition, Alan Garcia, and he has to define himself in a way that in the election he managed to avoid.

NEWMAN: Toledo won't have much time to repair the damage left by ousted President Alberto Fujimori who fled to Japan late last year.

(on camera): Tired of broken promises and corruption, Peruvians want to see results -- results not only to restore their faith in their crippled economy, but also, after nearly a decade of authoritarian rule, in their battered institutions.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Lima.


WALCOTT: Kenya is a country on the East Coast of Africa. The county is a study of contrasts. Sandy beaches and rain forests line the coast, but inland, there are regions where extremely dry climate and poor soil stretch for miles. Most of Kenya's people live in rural areas where they work as farmers. But each year, more and more people move to Kenya's cities and towns, which are growing rapidly.

The country isn't without its problems. Like the rest of Africa, Kenya has been hurt by the AIDS crisis. In fact, a growing number of Kenyan children have been orphaned by AIDS. Many of these children have been reduced to destitution and are living on the streets in some big cities. It's a problem some adults are now trying to do something about.

Catherine Bond reports from Nairobi.


CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They used to be among the tens of thousands, the destitute and abandoned children who beg for a living on Kenya's streets. Now they live here, in an orphanage that's also a school, a school that's also a farm and a workshop and a rehabilitation center -- all set up by a man who used to be a wealthy Kenyan businessman.

CHARLES MULLI, FOUNDER: I had the money. I was living in a very comfortable life because I had a big house -- a mansion literally. And I had this family to care of eight children, five adults and three sons, but I thought then something I needed to do something extra.

BOND: In 1989, he took in three street children. Now there are 528. The dropout rate of children who go back, he says, is about 8 percent. Himself, an abandoned child, he turned his own houses over to kids with no where else to call home, no one to refer to as mom or dad.

Maureen (ph) lived on the streets after her mother died. And like many other street children in Kenya, she was addicted to sniffing glue.

MAUREEN (through translator): It was hard to stop, she says.

BOND: During school time, she's in a special class learning to read and write.

MAUREEN (through translator): This is a nice place. I came, I was welcomed nicely, I ate and I slept.

BOND: Mulli and his staff are Evangelical Christians. They approach children living on the streets with the word of God. But they also offer a better life on Earth: fresh food, a decent place to sleep, education. The school here performs well in national exams.

Its head boy hopes to go to university. He was one of the first children given a home.

DAVID KARIUIK, HEAD BOY/FORMER STREET CHILD: We were shown, in part, parental, which I lacked at home, because I told him I used to be beaten thoroughly by my stepfather and being mistreated, spending some days without food because I was not for that man.

BOND: Here, he says, he's learned self-reliance. There's housework, even manual labor. With older boys helping build new structures, bathrooms and a bridge over a fast running river. Unbelievably, it was dry just a few weeks ago.

The farm belongs to the street kids' home. It pays workers to pick green beans for export to Europe -- earning about 20,000 U.S. dollars last year.

CHRISTIAN BERNARD, EXPORTER: Mr. Charles Mulli approached me, I think now one-and-a-half years ago, whether he could grow vegetables for me and he told me that he had an orphanage. And immediately you start thinking, ooh, let me have a look first before I start planting beans over there. And then when I came here, yes, actually your mouth falls open about what you see here. I mean you see nice stone structures, you see children happy, playing around.

BOND: But as the number of children grows, so does the need for money. Mulli sold his own businesses. His assets lasted six years.

MULLI: And I see what I'm doing here is really greater than what I was doing as a businessman, because I've given everything and I can see the transformation of life of the children from the street culture becoming to be very responsible children of this country.

BOND: Keeping a child here costs a dollar a day. They need more clothes as well as a proper dining area to replace the open-air shed where children and staff currently eat their meals. When children were asked what they wanted for Christmas, most said shoes.

(on camera): This is the kind of life children lead if they don't get the chance to leave the streets. And some say there are as many as 135,000 children in Kenya living like this.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Nairobi.


HAYNES: It's a hatred so deep few outsiders can fully understand. For centuries, the Middle East has been a land torn apart by animosity between Arabs and Jews. Over the last seven months or so, fighting has once again flared up and there seems to be no end in sight. More than 500 people have been killed in clashes known as the Intifada, an Arab word meaning uprising. While the roots of hatred run deep, could there be seeds of peace among a new generation of Arabs and Jews?

Jason Bellini traveled to Israel to track down some young people who took part in a special camp designed to do just that: sow seeds of peace.


ARIEL TAL, ISRAELI: When I'm watching the news, I'm very disappointed from the Arab people. I keep thinking to myself: Why are they throwing this peace away? I'm watching the riots and the people throwing rocks. And I think: Why should I cry for them? Why should I apologize for someone who's going to kill a soldier? And he's throwing rocks to kill someone. Why should I cry for him if he die?

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over the summer, Palestinians and Israeli and Seeds of Peace camp in Maine didn't always agree or see eye to eye on everything. But they got along. They became friends and got closer than they ever expected they could.

TAMER SHABANEH, PALESTINIAN: We used to know them as a gun soldiers on checkpoints. We know them as settlers and whatever. And now we see them. We're friends. The stereotypes break in the first few days.

BELLINI: That was the whole point of the camp, which brought a select group of Israelis and Palestinians together to learn what they shared in common, to become the hope for the future.

MICHAL TEL-AL, ISRAELI: We ran after the mascot.

BELLINI: When she got back, Michal, who's Israeli, planned on maintaining her friendships with her new Palestinian friends, mostly through e-mail, but also over the phone and in person on occasion.

M. TEL-AL: These are all people from Seeds of Peace.

BELLINI: For several weeks, she did just that.

M. TEL-AL: I was looking forward to, like, having them over and having my friends over and then for my school friends to meet my Palestinian friends.

BELLINI: Then intifada started and all bets were off. Optimism and good feelings from the summer gave way to anger to and disappointment.

M. TEL-AL: In the beginning, I was just so upset and I was so -- I was -- I was so angry: "I can't believe they're doing this to us."

BELLINI: Quickly, the tone and seriousness of e-mails change.

M. TEL-AL: "These days, I find myself putting off reading SeedsNet more and more. To be completely honest, I am as confused as you are about the stuff going on in these days."

BELLINI: Michal's father, Elli (ph), a filmmaker by profession, decided, when the conflict broke out, to begin recording interviews with Michal and her friends.

ELLI TEL-AL, ISRAELI FILMMAKER: I decide that I am going to follow her and her friends and to see how they're going to understand this crisis.

BELLINI: The two of us decided to collaborate and try to reach together Michal's friends from the summer who were on the Palestinian side. Tamer and his friends live in Hevron, an area where some of the most violent confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians broke out. SHABANEH: You see here every day, five, four Palestinians are killed. Then you see what is happening from the Israel soldiers. Then, at the same moment, you're starting to remember those days in the camp.

BELLINI: Seeds of Peace camp taught them they do have things in common. They can be friends. There's hope for peace. The intifada showed them just how complex their own emotions are. It hit Ariel after he got word that a well-liked Palestinian Seed had been killed.

TAL: My first question was: "Did he throw stones?" And they said "Yes." So I said, "OK, then he deserves to die." And, after that, I realized it wasn't like that. And it really made me think about what I said and about how I reacted to that.


HAYNES: Returning to the subject of our top story now, it's hard to imagine anyone whose life hasn't been touched in some way by HIV and AIDS. Still, for a lot of us, the disease exists only by the numbers -- the amount of people who have died and the money spent on drug research. But for every statistic and every dollar spent, there is a face and a name -- a person whose life and loved ones will never be the same.

Maria Hinojosa has the story of one such person.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nestled in the quiet of the Pennsylvania mountains is the home of a survivor. Three times a day 42-year-old Sean Strub gulps back 15 different colored pills.

SEAN STRUB, AIDS PATIENT: That's it for now.

HINOJOSA: Sean has been living with AIDS for 20 years.

STRUB: My doctor, who was a friend, said, you know, "Look, Sean, these days, you know, you could still have two good years left."

HINOJOSA: At first he was angry.

STRUB: At the peak of the most angry activism I was involved with I only wanted to be around other people who shared that priority.

HINOJOSA: But then he got organized, becoming an outspoken, New York-based, gay activist, going from protest to protest, to arrests.

STRUB: It's about finding a purpose for you life in general. It's about being of service.

HINOJOSA: And then Sean got sick.

STRUB: You know, my viral load was 3.3 million. You know, my CD4 cells were down to one, you know, and there's supposed to be over a thousand or something. I had the purple lesions on my face and my body and in my lungs. And other people would look at me and they'd see the face of death.

HINOJOSA: Along with his doctors he challenges conventional AIDS therapy.

STRUB: I've currently had, since I was diagnosed, 500 vials of blood.

HINOJOSA: Started taking medication only after he got sick and now interrupts his treatments.

STRUB: Just sort of tired of being, you know, tethered to taking the drugs. I mean it wasn't...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's a perfectly understandable feeling.

HINOJOSA: He wants to give his body a break from the toxic drugs.

STRUB: You can really feel like you're taking a poison, you know, but it's a poison to counteract, you know, another problem. So it just feels like the drug is sort of surging into my body and it's like going to every -- the tips of my fingers and my toes and it's kind of like settling in and rattling some cages on the way, and I'm just sort of jittery.

HINOJOSA: Sean's philosophy of empowering people to make their own medical decisions drove him to create a magazine called "Pause" for HIV positive people.

STRUB: People with AIDS trust other people with AIDS more than virtually anyone else.

HINOJOSA: Now after 20 years of living with AIDS Sean has refocused his life again.

STRUB: So this is my oxygen factory.

HINOJOSA: Moving away from street activism...

STRUB: I wanted to get out of an urban ghetto, out of a gay ghetto. I wanted to be in the more diverse community in all sorts of different ways. You know, when you have friends, you know, just with people who have life-threatening illnesses you deal with a lot of loss and sorrow.

Hey, Ed. How are you?


STRUB: Pretty good.

HINOJOSA: He's now a developer in the quaint town of Milford, Pennsylvania. BRANNON: My relationship with Sean and his involvement in the community has had very little to do with that part of his life.

HINOJOSA: His life revolves around this town and his several business.

STRUB: What do we have for reservations tonight?

HINOJOSA: And not necessarily his illness.

MARIA PIGNATARO, MUIR HOUSE MANAGER: It never ever enters your mind. He's constantly moving and working and he's like a visionary.

HINOJOSA: A visionary luck enough to have survived countless close friends, three lovers, and three doctors, yet who still hasn't forgotten the other faces of AIDS.

STRUB: How do I reconcile my incredible good fortune and access and success in treatment with, you know, the tens of millions of people who are so desperately in need?

I don't know how other than to try and make our lives of some value.

HINOJOSA: Maria Hinojosa, CNN, Milford, Pennsylvania.


WALCOTT: Hard to believe it's been 20 years already.

HAYNES: Yes, and still no cure.

WALCOTT: Well that wraps up today's show. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

HAYNES: Take care.

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