A study of hospital records in South Carolina reported Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. showed that many AIDS cases go unreported to health authorities. Using a computerized record of hospital discharge diagnoses for an 18-month period in 1986 and 1987, researchers from the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control found that only 91 of 153 AIDS cases were reported to the state's AIDS registry, with nearly half the blacks with the disease going unreported.
"If under-reporting to the degree observed in this study is widespread in the United States, current estimates regarding the extent of the epidemic should be viewed with caution," study author George Conway wrote. The group speculated that the low reporting rate in South Carolina may be the result of reluctance of doctors to report acquired immune deficiency syndrome cases or of inexperience with diagnosing the disease. In a separate study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Belgian researchers reported that AIDS may spread more easily among heterosexuals than had previously been recognized. Dr. Nathan Clumeck and his colleagues at the St. Pierre University Hospital in Brussels reported that a civil engineer from Central Africa who moved to Belgium in 1963 apparently infected at least 11 of the 18 women he had sex with in the three years before he died in 1986.