AIDS patients who are hospitalized should be given separate rooms and bathrooms and treated no differently than other patients in isolation, according to new guidelines to be issued today by the D.C. Commission on Public Health.
The guidelines were prepared by the medical education committee of the Mayor's Task Force on AIDS, and will be distributed to all public and private hospitals and clinics in the city.
"We hope the guidelines will help tell the people delivering food to the AIDS patient and people who are delivering the TVs that they don't run any risk of danger," said Dr. Ernest Hardaway, D.C. commissioner of public health. "We don't recommend that a patient's room be labeled as an AIDS patient."
The guidelines are an adaptation of those prepared by the federal Centers for Disease Control and by the National Institutes of Health. Yet another list of precautions and procedures for AIDS patients is being developed by the American Hospital Association and will be distributed next month.
The new guidelines underscore practices already in effect in Washington's 17 hospitals, said Steve Lipsom, director of the Washington Hospital Association. "Hospitals in the District have treated thousands and thousands of infectious disease patients over the years," he said. "They're experienced and practiced at this."
AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a disease that destroys a person's immune system. Although its exact method of transmission remains unknown, researchers believe it requires direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a victim.
There have been 43 cases of AIDS reported in the metropolitan Washington area to date. This includes 27 cases in the city, with 12 deaths; 13 cases in northern Virginia, with 3 deaths; and 3 cases in Maryland, with no deaths.
District health officials, who had refused to supply the federal government with the names of AIDS victims, are now reporting cases to the federal Centers for Disease Control by using victims' initials. "The CDC changed its mind and indicated they don't need names," said Dr. Hardaway.
The city also is weighing bids from three producers to film an educational movie about AIDS that will be shown to community groups. Hardaway said the film, which has an estimated cost of $10,000, will be prepared within the next month.
The city is spending $50,000 on AIDS information projects and to finance the mayor's task force on the disease. Hardaway said he is preparing grant proposals to seek federal money for additional efforts in the coming year.