The five-year study, which will be conducted in Los Angeles, Boston and Syracuse, N.Y., will examine the health of 200 people in each city, half of whom carry antibodies for AIDS, Syracuse Red Cross officials said Friday. The Syracuse chapter was awarded $72,450 for the first year of the study.
Officials with the federal Centers for Disease Control estimate that between 5% and 20% of those who carry antibodies will eventually get the disease, but there have been no long-term studies.
A blood test for antibodies was first made available to blood banks last March. It indicates whether a person has come in contact with the HTLV-III virus, which is linked to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the disease that destroys the body's immune system and leaves a person vulnerable to deadly infections.
Syracuse was picked because it is considered a low-risk city, with only 19 cases of AIDS per 1 million residents, the Centers for Disease Control said. Boston--considered a city with a moderate rate--has 30 cases per million and Los Angeles, a high-risk city, has 112 cases per million.
Los Angeles County officials announced Friday that 56 more confirmed cases of AIDS had raised the county total to 1,315. About 52% of the people who have contracted the disease have died, according to a report by the county Health Department.
The Red Cross is interested in the study because the AIDS virus can be spread through an exchange of contaminated blood.