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ANYONE CAN GET AIDS, WOMAN WARNS

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Missy LeClaire says that as a white, middle-class heterosexual woman, she knows she doesn't fit the stereotype of an Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome sufferer.

But while those contracting the AIDS virus most often are homosexual men and intravenous drug abusers, the killer disease isn't exclusive to them, LeClaire warns."The public needs to know this could happen to anyone and we are not fighting lifestyles, we are fighting a disease," she said here Thursday during a speech to the Living with AIDS Conference.

She said when she met her husband, Jim, in 1985, he was a 6-foot merchant marine who weighed 184 pounds.

He weighed 80 pounds when he died of AIDS in April 1987. He apparently contracted the disease through a blood transfusion in 1982 after a serious car accident.

When he got sick shortly after their marriage and tested HIV positive, they didn't know what it meant.

"We had no idea what that meant, and the doctors didn't seem to know either. They said Jimmy could not have AIDS because he wasn't gay and didn't use drugs," she said.

His condition worsened, and when she looked at an AIDS pamphlet at a supermarket a few weeks later, she took him to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

LeClaire learned then that she also tested positive for the virus, but "I bundled that away for a while because Jimmy needed so much care."

Although she has been ill for most of the past year, she travels the country whenever possible telling her story.

"I feel an urgent need to educate all the people I can while I have time because it's been predicted that by 1990, one in every four Americans will know someone who has the disease." she said.