DEAR ABBY: Is there any reason why an obituary must state that a person has died of AIDS? I notice that it is never stated that a person has died of steroids, yet steroids attack the system in a similar manner by destroying the immune system.

Due to ignorance, many people think AIDS is a venereal disease - which it is not. Please consider the anguish that loved ones must endure when this kind of information appears in the obituary. I can remember when people were just as afraid of cancer. They wouldn't go into the home of one so infected, lest they, too, become infected.By the way, I do not have AIDS nor am I HIV positive. Thanks, Abby, for letting me have my say. - HELEN IN K.C.

DEAR HELEN: When the cause of death is AIDS, and that fact appears in the obituary, it is very often the wish of the deceased. (It is nothing to be ashamed of; we have lost some of our finest people to AIDS.) However, if the family of the deceased chooses to omit (or disguise) the cause of death, the family will have the last word. Literally.

DEAR ABBY: Please warn women not to carry a purse with a handle to the market, or to any mall (open or closed), or anyplace where people shop.

Recently, in the parking lot of my favorite supermarket, a young man who had been hiding behind a van jumped out and grabbed my purse. I resisted and pulled as hard as I could; then he gave my purse a very hard yank. I lost my balance and fell backward on the cement, damaging my shoulder, legs, back and the left side of my face!

Abby, I was only a few feet from the entrance of the store. The man jumped into a waiting car nearby. One courageous woman chased them in her car and wrote down the license number on the back of her hand - but she missed one number. Meanwhile, he had my purse containing my wallet, all my keys, credit cards, address book, etc.

From now on, I am going to carry only a change purse or a credit card when I go marketing - NEVER will I give anyone a chance to do this again.

My car had to be towed to a garage, the locks changed, the keys changed and our house locks changed - a very expensive and painful lesson. - IRIS H. IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR IRIS: Thank you for some valuable advice. Because you took the time and effort to warn others, many may be spared the costly and frightening experience you endured.

DEAR ABBY: Please, please, PLEASE put an end to what I have come to know as "elevator rudeness!"

It seems every morning for years I have been bowled over by rude people pushing to get on an elevator - before I can even get off! To make matters worse, I usually have an armload of something - hot coffee, files, a briefcase or sack lunch.

Let me outline the scenario: The car stops, the door opens, and before I or my fellow passengers can exit, some rude person barges right in and throws me off balance due to my high heels and an armload of stuff.

Abby, don't people know the unwritten law of elevator etiquette? When the car stops, polite people stand to one side and wait for the car to empty before charging into the elevator and pushing their floor buttons.

So simple, yet my shin is still healing from the other day: A delivery man wheeled his bread cart into me. Please comment. - I'LL TAKE THE STAIRS IN EVANSVILLE, IND.

DEAR I'LL: I think you said it very well. Courteous people allow elevator passengers to get out before they barge in. And people with delivery carts should use the service elevators.

DEAR ABBY: My husband calls telephone sex numbers when I'm not around. I never know how many calls he's made until our telephone bill comes. Every month, these calls are more numerous, and they are running into a lot of money. He knows how much it hurts and upsets me, but he continues to do it.

Abby, I am a good-looking woman, and he tells me I am great in bed, but if he doesn't quit making these sex calls, I am going to leave him. Please tell me how to handle this new habit of his. - NOT GOOD ENOUGH

DEAR NOT GOOD ENOUGH: You are not responsible for what turns your husband on. This "habit" has nothing to do with you - unless he's spending more time on the telephone than he spends with you. You and your husband need to talk this out together with a marriage counselor. If he refuses to go, go alone. You are not the only wife who feels she is not "good enough" because her husband discovered telephone sex.

DEAR ABBY: When a person visits a relative in a different state, and one party prefers to stay up late and sleep late the following morning, and the other one is in the habit of getting up early in the morning and retiring early, who should adjust his or her schedule - the visiting guest or the host?

There have been no disagreements over this, and all visits have been most congenial, but I would like your opinion as to which one should adjust his or her schedule during such a visit. - WONDERING IN MANHATTAN, KAN.

DEAR WONDERING: Why should anyone adjust his or her schedule? The early bird should feel free to get up in the morning without bothering the night owl. And the night owl need not get up early to accommodate the early bird.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)