BALTIMORE -- Johns Hopkins researchers are looking for volunteers to participate in studies on the effectiveness of the drug AZT and another antiviral compound aimed at preventing the onset of AIDS, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.

Hopkins is one of 19 treatment centers in the country that will share in $137.5 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to find ways to battle the disease, said Marion Glick of Hopkins.

"Right now, we don't have anything to cure the disease," Glick said.

"We only have trial drugs that inhibit AIDS."

The AIDS Drug Treatment Evaluation Unit and Johns Hopkins are seeking persons over age 18 who display various stages of acquired immune deficiency syndrome for the studies.

Three of the studies will involve AZT, the only government-approved drug to combat the fatal virus, which breaks down the body's immunity to disease.

The studies are expected to last from six months to three years.

While AZT, or azidothymidine, does not cure AIDS or kill the virus, tests have shown that it can prolong the lives of AIDS patients.

The drug does have some side effects such as anemia, requiring patients to undergo blood transfusions.

AZT is also expensive, costing an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 for a year's supply.

The fourth study will involve the drug didioxycytodine or DDC, one of many experimental drugs used in AIDS research.

The drug is described as having similar results as AZT without the harmful side effects.