COUNTYWIDE : AIDS Care Funding Will Be Considered

A program to streamline the delivery of acute clinical care to county residents who are HIV-positive or have AIDS will be considered Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The board will review a proposed $600,000 agreement with the University of California Board of Regents that would provide for a minimum 200 visits per month to the various specialty clinics at UCI Medical Center.

Public Health Deputy Director Rick Greenwood said the arrangement would create a mechanism to provide care for people who require greater outpatient attention than the county can provide through its own clinics.

"This will help the patients because it will get them the care they need more quickly," Greenwood said. "It will also help UCI because they've ended up with people showing up at their emergency room doorstep that they've cared for with no funding."

Greenwood said the arrangement would benefit ailing HIV-positive patients whose symptoms do not classify them as having AIDS under the current medical definition, which in many cases means they do not qualify for Medi-Cal or other health-care assistance.

Donald Forthall, director of the UCI Infectious Diseases Clinic, endorsed the plan. "We definitely see this as a step in the right direction," Forthall said. "There is a great need for this."

Forthall said the $600,000 would be used to hire three new staffers: a physician, a nurse and a social worker. He said a third clinic in the near future would also be a likely addition.

The contract before the board, which would run through April, 1995, would be funded through federal money sent to Orange County through the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act. The county became eligible for money when it recorded its 2,000th AIDS case last year.

As of March, 1993, 2,557 AIDS cases had been documented in Orange County, with 1,572 fatalities among them. Seventeen of the cases involved children.

While pinning a number to the county's HIV-positive cases is difficult because many of them remain undiagnosed, Greenwood said, officials estimate there are 10,000 cases. Nationwide, one million people are believed to be HIV-positive.

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