Schaefer urges OK for new AIDS test

August 18, 1991

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has written the U.S. secretary of health and human services to urge approval of a blood test that detects two strains of the AIDS virus.

The test, which is under review by federal officials, would detect HIV-1, which causes most AIDS infections in this country, and HIV-2, which is rare.

Health officials say there are only 31 known cases of HIV-2 in the United States. Most of those who carry the virus are believed to have contracted it in West Africa.

Four cases of HIV-2 were detected through anonymous testing in Montgomery County this month.

Commonly used AIDS tests are designed to check for HIV-1 and detect HIV-2 only 60 percent to 80 percent of the time, officials of the Centers for Disease Control said.

"The governor is just saying, 'I've got four cases, and it's here,' " said Nelson J. Sabatini, Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene. "We're just saying, 'Please get this [combination] out as quickly as possible.' "

A spokesman for Health and Human Services told the Washington Post that Secretary Louis W. Sullivan has not received Mr. Schaefer's letter and that the agency could not comment on the matter.

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