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County Increases AIDS Spending

December 31, 1986

This responds to your editorial (Dec. 15), "The Epidemic," concerning AIDS in Los Angeles County.

The editorial properly stated the need for visible and pro-active county actions to deal with the current epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. As indicated in the editorial, county expenditures for medical care for persons with AIDS and ARC have increased sharply. County Hospitals care for 30% to 35% of all AIDS patients in the county. In addition, both Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center and Harbor/UCLA Medical Center are nationally recognized centers for AIDS research and experimental drug trials.

The editorial recommended that the county also provide funds for AID risk-reduction education programs. On Oct. 22, the Board of Supervisors allocated $600,000 to create an AIDS Program Office in the Department of Health Services.

One of this office's main functions is AIDS education. The board's funding covered four health educators. Later, the county obtained funding from the Centers for Disease Control for two additional health educators to work with the black and Hispanic communities. In October, 1986, we secured state funds for an additional health educator to help develop AIDS-educational materials. Since November, 1985, the AIDS Education staff has provided more than 160 presentations to community groups, schools, hospitals, etc.

Further, this fall the board approved county funding for three innovative AIDS educational programs for gay and bisexual men.

Recently, the Department of Health Services in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Medical Assn. produced a video, "Counseling the HIV Antibody Positive Patient." This video encourages physicians to obtain sexual histories from their patients and to counsel patients how to reduce the risk of becoming infected or infecting others.

Finally, the county recently obtained $2.6 million for a three-year federal demonstration program to develop a comprehensive, integrated, and cost-effective system of care for persons with AIDS and ARC. A portion of these funds will be used for AIDS education by community organizations.

In summary, I believe that the county has been very heavily involved in AIDS education. Obviously, action to deal with AIDS is needed on many fronts. The Times and its readers can be assured that the county will continue to respond aggressively to the challenge of AIDS.

ROBERT C. GATES

Director of Health Services

Los Angeles County

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