DePazzo questions program for AIDS patients, cites 'privileged class'

April 27, 1995|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County Councilman Louis L. DePazzo has never been accused of political correctness, but his comments on AIDS patients at a council meeting Tuesday momentarily stunned his colleagues into silence.

Commenting on a bill approving the use of $32,819 in federal money for psychiatric help and transportation to medical appointments for needy HIV-infected patients, Mr. DePazzo complained that people with other diseases, like cancer, weren't served by the money. "It seems to me we have a privileged class," he said.

"Do we have this for cancer patients?" he asked health officials, referring to the $9,041 set aside to transport 130 to 150 patients over the next year. They said the money is used only as a last resort.

Told the money was allocated by Congress for HIV patients under the Ryan White Act, Mr. DePazzo, a Dundalk Democrat, let the subject go with one final comment: "Just get me a case of HIV, I guess."

After the momentary silence, Council Chairman Vincent J. Gardina of Perry Hall loudly praised the health department for applying for the federal funds.

Outside afterward, Dr. Joan M. Colfer, director of the health department's Bureau of Disease Control, said some breast cancer patients get help with transportation costs, but that she didn't want to appear to argue with the councilman.

"It's cheaper to get them [AIDS patients] to their medical appointments than to call an ambulance in the middle of the night," she said.

Mr. DePazzo said later that he has nothing against AIDS victims, but is "befuddled" by the help directed solely at them.

He also expressed suspicion of AIDS advocacy groups, claiming that "a lot of them make their livings from getting federal funds."

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