City/county Digest

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

July 11, 2006

New tests due in city to detect HIV more quickly

The Baltimore Health Department was expected today to announce that it will begin using new HIV tests that can detect the virus in weeks instead of months.

The Supporting HIV Intervention with Early Lab Detections (SHIELD) initiative will make the tests available to residents throughout the city.

The RNA-based test detects genetic changes that occur within weeks of the person being infected and shortens the length of time people have to wait to learn their status.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus causes AIDS. Officials believe that the test will allow them to begin treatment earlier.

The new test is available at the department's Eastern and Druid district clinics. Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein says the tests will be made available at other clinics.

Stephanie Beasley

Harford County: Bel Air

Decision delayed on fate of school

The Harford County Board of Education deferred a vote last night on the fate of a 19th-century school building on Gordon Street that had been proposed for demolition to expand a playground, parking lot and bus loop at Bel Air Elementary School. The town government and preservationists want to save the building, which dates to 1884. Although the town's proposals for reusing the building are incomplete, the board will allow Bel Air time to resubmit formal concepts with financing plans. The delay will give education officials time to conduct an engineering study to see how the building could be incorporated into the elementary school campus. The building, on 2 acres, adjoins the Harford County Historical Society and has been vacant since December when school system central offices housed there were relocated.

Mary Gail Hare

Baltimore: Charles Village

Benefits District director resigns

The executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District abruptly resigned last week, days after neighborhood advocates filed a lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court challenging the organization's ability to levy an additional property tax. Janet Levine resigned Friday for personal reasons, according to Jennifer Martin, the board president. The benefits district is embroiled in a lawsuit over whether its board had a quorum when it voted to approve the tax, which is used to provide more neighborhood sanitation and security. Levine did not return phone calls seeking comment.

John Fritze

Baltimore: Wireless network

Firms meet before submitting plans

About 30 communication and computer companies attended a conference yesterday organized by Baltimore officials to explore the possibility of a citywide wireless Internet network. The conference followed a "request for ideas" released by the city last month to consider its options for creating a network -- which City Hall officials say is intended to provide affordable Internet access, especially in poor neighborhoods. The meeting allowed companies to ask questions in advance of proposals they will submit Aug. 30. "I'm really energized and excited about the amount of interest that was shown," said Mario Armstrong, a city technology official.

John Fritze

Baltimore: Literacy

Registration is on for July classes

The Greater Homewood Adult Literacy Program is holding registration for July classes. Sessions for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow. Students must register and be tested to enroll in the 12-week classes, which are to begin next week. Fees range from $20 to $120. ESOL is at 3501 N. Charles St., in the lower level of University Baptist Church.

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