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Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS : COUNTY : Supervisors Create Panel to Battle AIDS

Times staff writers Marcida Dodson and Heidi Evans compiled the Week in Review stories

The year is 1990. Some 1,425 people in Orange County have had AIDS, and about 800 of them have died. Another 800 people have AIDS-related complex. Still more are infected with the AIDS virus and, although they may not have any symptoms, can transmit the potentially deadly virus to others.

Those are the predictions outlined in a staff report that prompted the Board of Supervisors last week to establish a committee to plan Orange County’s battle against acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Supervisors also created a new position to coordinate public and private efforts to serve patients and prevent the spread of the disease.

In accepting the “AIDS Master Plan,” the supervisors also pledged to look for money to alleviate AIDS patients’ most pressing need--the dearth of nursing home and other long-term care for people well enough to leave the hospital but too sick to live without in-home medical assistance.

Before the meeting, community groups had been mildly critical of the report, saying it should have proposed bolder prevention and treatment efforts by the county and advocated spending more money on the fight against AIDS. But they were pleased with the board’s action.

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“Money isn’t everything. Coordination is more,” said Pearl Jemison-Smith, president of Action, or AIDS Coalition to Identify Orange County’s Needs. “It would have been nice to see dollars and cents, but we’ve got the committee. We’re demonstrating today that AIDS groups are coordinated and working with the system to get things done.”

Action identified 13 “areas of need” that the advisory committee should address. They included education beginning in elementary school, creation of outpatient facilities for diagnosing and treating AIDS, development of mental health programs and the financing of nonprofit community organizations that assist AIDS patients and educate the public.

The AIDS advisory committee created by the supervisors will be composed of representatives from the county health and social services agencies, community groups, institutions serving AIDS patients and professional associations. The new AIDS coordinator--a position proposed by Supervisor Thomas F. Riley--will work with the community and the county’s public health officer.

“This won’t solve the AIDS crisis in Orange County,” said Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, who requested the master plan’s development. “But this does give us a direction to follow. It serves as a road map and enables us to focus our attention on the most pressing needs.”


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