The City Council voted Tuesday to establish a 15-member HIV/AIDS Task Force. Long Beach, home to an estimated 40,000 gays, has one of the state's highest rates of AIDS mortality. In recent years health officials have been alarmed by the spread of the disease among the city's ethnic populations.
The task force will work with the city in planning and coordinating services to victims of the disease. By the end of 1990, there were 829 diagnosed cases of AIDS in the city, according to city records. "The task force will hopefully help us take the latest, most current information and apply it to Long Beach," said Diana Bonta, director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The task force grew out of the recommendations of an advisory committee to the council and a public hearing held last summer by the city's Board of Health and Human Services. At that hearing, some medical and health workers testified that as many as 8,000 new cases of AIDS or HIV infection requiring treatment could emerge in Long Beach in the next several years. The city's current services, these speakers testified, lack coordination and need to expand if they are to meet the growing needs of AIDS victims.