The number of people diagnosed with AIDS in Baltimore jumped sevenfold from 1985 through 1990, and the number of infected people in the surrounding counties more than tripled, according to statistics compiled by the state.
"We're seeing a consistent rate of increase" in cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome in the Baltimore metropolitan area, said Dr. Audrey Rogers, an official with the state AIDS Administration.
The metro area, as defined by the state health department, includes Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties. Separate statistics are kept for Baltimore.
"We need to do some analysis of the [metro area] numbers to see how significant or alarming a trend it is. But on face value, there's steady growth that causes concern," Dr. Rogers said.
In 1985 there were 36 identified cases of AIDS in the metropolitan area, she said. The number of identified cases in 1990 jumped to 111. (The years cited refer to when the cases were first diagnosed.)
Figures for 1991 won't be completed until April, but the number of cases throughout the state is expected to continue rising, Dr. Rogers said.
In contrast to the relatively slower rise in the number of metro-area AIDS cases, the number of cases in Baltimore leaped from 65 in 1985 to 456 cases in 1990.
Nationwide in 1985, 8,388 AIDS cases were reported. The number of cases rose to 43,339 in 1990.
In Maryland in 1985, 201 AIDS cases were diagnosed; in 1990, 865.
In Baltimore in 1990, Dr. Rogers noted, more AIDS cases resulted from drug users sharing needles than from sex among gay men. That was the first time any Maryland jurisdiction reported such a finding, she said.
"It's gotten to the point where you can't address AIDS without addressing drugs," said Dr. Rogers.