Maryland to Take Over Count of Baltimore’s HIV Cases
Admitting that the Baltimore City Health Department has done a "poor job" of counting the number of city residents infected with HIV, city Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said at a public hearing on the spread of the virus last Wednesday that he will turn the responsibility over to state health officials, the Baltimore Sun reports. The City Council's Housing, Health and Environment Committee called the hearing in response to a "highly critical" October report by the Maryland AIDS Administration. The report found that the city is underreporting AIDS cases and incidents of HIV exposure, and warned that failure to accurately count these cases could cost Baltimore up to $1.8 million in federal funds. Explaining that the state Health Department is "in a better position to do the job," Beilenson agreed to let the state agency take over the responsibility for 18 months. He added that the city office will instead focus its attention on drug treatment and prevention, and noted that the city's needle exchange program is helping reduce the spread of HIV. Liza Solomon, director of the state AIDS administration agency, told council members that of 2,111 new HIV cases reported in Maryland in 1999, 59% were in Baltimore. Morgan State University Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Jay Chunn added at the hearing that Baltimore may have as many as 18,000 cases of HIV (Garland, Baltimore Sun, 1/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.