A federal panel waited five months before announcing its finding that steroids can halve the death rate from the pneumonia that is the leading killer of people with AIDS.
The panel withheld the announcement until Oct. 10 apparently because members could not agree on how to word their statement. Some feared disclosure could jeopardize publication in medical journals.
Even now, many doctors say they have not been informed of it.
The disease, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, attacks people whose immune systems are debilitated.
In the United States, about 40,000 people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome are expected to develop the pneumonia this year. From 2,000 to 12,000 eventually will die, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.