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Archive for Tuesday, November 3, 1992

AIDS DEFINITION ADDITIONS TO HAVE LITTLE EFFECT LOCALLY

November 3, 1992

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The proposed additions to the official definition of AIDS doesn't neccessarily mean an increase in AIDS patients in the Douglas County area, local health officials say.

The expanded definition, proposed by the Center for Disease Control last week, would add pulmonary tuberculosis, recurrent pneumonia and invasive cervical cancer to the list of diseases that indicate AIDS has developed in people infected with HIV.

This new definition should not greatly increase the number of people with AIDS in this area, said Dr. Elliot Goldstein, Kansas University Medical Center professor of medicine and director of the division of infectious diseases there.

"These three additions are uncommon manifestations of the disease in this area," Goldstein said. "The cervical cancer addition might slightly increase the number of women and the TB part might slightly increase the number of males, but I don't expect it to increase too much here."

He added, "You have to test positive to HIV first. There will probably be some people call in for counseling, but I would imagine doctors being very specific when diagnosing these.

"They would tell a patient, yes, you have pneumonia for the second time in four years, but that's just the luck of the draw."

A doctor shouldn't let patients jump to unwarranted conclusions, he said.

Ann Ailor, coordinator of HIV counseling and testing at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said she wasn't in a position to evaluate the new definition's effect because the local department doesn't actually treat patients with the disease.

Currently, people infected with HIV are diagnosed with AIDS when they develop any of 23 indicator diseases, such as Kaposi's sarcoma.

The new definition could make it easier for people infected with the virus to collect disability benefits. It also would enable them to take part in drug trials and qualify for low-cost AIDS drugs.

States also will be eligible for more federal funds distributed on the basis of reported AIDS cases. But government agencies, clinics and AIDS organizations also are expected to face higher costs and heavier workloads as a consequence of the definition additions.

The CDC will accept public comment on the additions until Nov. 14. The expanded definition is expected to go into effect Jan. 1, 1993.

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