AIDS worker seeks those needing help

Linda Stromberg is sure there are county residents infected with the human immunodeficiency virus who need help paying for medical care, housing, transportation and other services.

In an attempt to find those she is not already helping through a federally funded program, Ms. Stromberg, an AIDS case manager with the county health department, ran a newspaper ad last week. It invited HIV-infected individuals to call the department and discuss their health care needs. Everything would be anonymous.


She received no calls from anyone with HIV.

"I'm not really all that surprised," Ms. Stromberg said of the lack of response. "Confidentiality is without a doubt the biggest concern of people with HIV in Carroll County.


"It's a shame, because it makes it a little more difficult to anticipate what the needs are."

The only two calls she received were from people who had lost loved ones to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Ms. Stromberg said. They called to find out the purpose of the ad.

Ms. Stromberg had hoped to use the information obtained from callers to apply for more federal funds for HIV-infected county residents.

The money is made available to jurisdictions through federal grants under the Ryan White Care Act. Distribution of the grants is based on the number of AIDS cases in various areas.

In the 1995 fiscal year, Carroll was awarded $38,000 in Ryan White funds. The grant program is named in memory of Ryan White, an 18-year-old Indianian who died in 1990 of AIDS.

Ms. Stromberg uses the money to help HIV-positive Carroll residents pay for medical care, prescriptions, transportation, housing and other illness-related expenses.

A large part of the money goes toward staffing a clinic for HIV-positive patients that is offered every other month at the health department.

The lack of response to the health department's ad doesn't mean that Carroll residents infected with HIV are all receiving appropriate medical care or managing financially, Ms. Stromberg said.


"We're sure there are some infected people living in the county who up to this point have not come for any help," she said. "If we don't know about the needs, we can't get the money to keep pace with the needs."

Since 1981, there have been 41 reported cases of AIDS in Carroll; 24 of those people have died.

There are a few primary-care physicians in Carroll who provide medical care to some of the HIV-infected county residents, Ms. Stromberg said.

Problems finding medical care sometimes arise when HIV-positive patients need the services of a specialist, she said. In such instances, the health department clinic may refer them to Johns Hopkins Hospital's Moore clinic in Baltimore.

Some patients have been able to receive medical care and other services from the clinic until their deaths.

"That's what Ryan White funding does," Ms. Stromberg said. "It makes it possible for people to access services where they live."