A 37-member AIDS task force is recommending that the Howard County Health Department establish a clinic to monitor people infected with the virus that causes the fatal disease, expand community education and establish support services for people who are infected with the virus.
"Our low incidence in Howard County presents us with a unique opportunity," said Dr. Joyce M. Boyd, the county health officer who heads the task force, which released its report last week.
"We can deal with the AIDS challenge in a pro-active way, stressing education, prevention and the early diagnosis and treatment of those affected," she said.
Howard County has 55 diagnosed cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, compared with 2,250 in metropolitan Baltimore, according to the national Centers for Disease Control.
The task force recommends that all community organizations provide AIDS education and that "needle exchange and bleach giveaway programs should be considered."
It also recommends:
* AIDS education for all county jail inmates and at all county work sites and that all private medical providers offer referral information about AIDS.
* That coaches in public high schools continue to discuss the dangers of steroid use with athletes and inform them that using needles for injections puts them at risk for infection with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.
* Seminars to update medical providers on current medications and treatment.
* Establishing funds for nursing home beds for people with AIDS and "assisted living housing" arrangements for AIDS patients who need help but do not require nursing home care.
* A buddy program modeled on the Baltimore HERO (Health Education Resource Organization), in which trained volunteers work one-on-one with HIV-infected people to provide emotional and practical support, and a corps of volunteer advocates to help guide HIV-infected people through the welfare and social services systems.
* That Howard County organizations develop policies on AIDS for their employees.
The task force will send its final report to County Executive Charles I. Ecker on Dec. 1.