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2002-07-13 - 2:05 p.m.

A few days ago I heard that they are coming out with an HIV positive character for Sesame Street.

This character is supposed to lend a positive role model to children in South Africa, teaching them moral and real-world lessons (I typed lesions at first and had to backspace) about living with the terrible disease.

I guess the thinking is to get children to understand why kids and adults are stricken with this disease. I guess the goal is to help them cope, and help them get stronger, and not hate and fear so much, when it comes to HIV.

Maybe we should also have other characters that deal with other illnesses and mental conditions. Like a retarded muppet? Or how about a puppet with malnutrition? Or what about a puppet who treats other puppets different because they are BLACK PUPPETS?

Or what about showing Scary Touchie-Feelie Uncle puppet getting his? Or a cute beige hairless muppet that has terminal cancer, aww, won't we teach our kids the wonders of coping and dealing with adversity?

Look. I KNOW that it's a different world there when it comes to HIV and AIDS. I KNOW, and especially as a parent, I know this personally..that we need to give our children the tools to understand why things are the way they are. We need to give them the tools to understand whats wrong with the world, and why people are different, why disease happens, and about life, love, death, all of it.

I get it.

But they're kids. They are not fitted with the tools to comprehend all of this. They don't have the capacity, the real-world experience, the maturity to understand why things happen and the events that set them into motion.

Are they planning on having condoms and abstinence, let alone SEXUAL ACTIVITY being discussed to explain how little Aids-Puppet got her disease? I sincerely doubt that. So why bother? Why do it halfway.

Let them be kids, please let them be innocent and children, for a few years, that's all..let them hang onto their childhood.

Let them learn about morality, and the basics of how to treat another human being, how to be compassionate, curious, understanding, forgiving, compromising, open-minded and you don't need to focus on the specifics.

The details, the horrible truths that we deal with as adults....that's our burden to bear not theirs and we shouldn't push it on them.

Today, only 8 percent of babies whose HIV-positive mothers received AZT are born with the virus. That's down from 30 percent just a few years ago. So maybe instead of spending money and energy on making and producing episodes about the HIV-Puppet, they could invest money in AZT production and distribution for poorer countries so nobody has to grow up with their parents mistakes.

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