Montgomery County and Maryland health officials have said they will take a stronger role in the battle against AIDS while reducing funding for outreach programs now operated by a nationally recognized community group.
Officials denied that a decision to cut funds for the Baltimore-based Health Education Resource Organization reflected dissatisfaction with HERO's performance, although they said the group had not always complied with contract provisions.
"The requirement was for a monthly report of activities, and these weren't received for the last four months of the contract," said county AIDS medical coordinator James O. Bond.
HERO, which had an office in Montgomery County before the cut in funding has been commended for its educational efforts on AIDS. The group also operated the first AIDS hot line for teen-agers in the nation.
The growing participation of government has meant a significant reduction in state and county funding for HERO, according to administrator Bill Bace. He said the group had a budget of nearly $1 million last year and now has financing promises of only $400,000, including about $40,000 from Montgomery County and about $170,000 from the state.
But Bace said that HERO is embarking on a campaign to raise money to fund services that will supplement government programs rather than compete with them. He also applauded Montgomery's decision to assume a bigger role in the AIDS program there, describing Montgomery as "one of the counties in the forefront in the country addressing the AIDS issue and needs of its constituents."
Last year the county had an $81,000 contract with HERO for health education and patient support services. This year the county renewed the $41,500 contract with HERO for health education but dropped the $40,000 part of the contract for patient support.
"The reason for that was because the program for patient support was brought inside the health department," Bond said. A medical social worker is being hired to see that the needs of AIDS patients are assessed and that the patients then are referred to the proper community agency for services, he said.
During fiscal 1987, HERO received an estimated $353,000 in state contracts for outreach work with the gay and minority communities, Bace said.
But state officials announced June 30, the end of the fiscal year, that no new contracts would be awarded for outreach. Instead, the officials said, the health department would hire additional staff. They said the change was in response to Gov. William Donald Schaefer's directive to have the state play a more visible role in the fight against acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Michael Golden, a state health department spokesman, said yesterday that Maryland has hired two people to do AIDS outreach work.