Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rockville city officials, in what they are calling an effort to dispel some of the myths about AIDS, will soon be mailing copies of the U.S. surgeon general's report on the disease to their constituents.
A spokeswoman for Hoyer said yesterday that each of the more than 220,000 copies of the 36-page report to be sent next month to residents of his 5th Congressional District will be accompanied by a letter informing the recipient that the report contains explicit descriptions of how the disease can be transmitted.
Rockville Mayor Steven Van Grack and the City Council intend to send more than 19,000 copies of the report.
The report, by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, offers general information about acquired immune deficiency syndrome and outlines known ways of contracting the disease and how to minimize the risk of exposure to it.
Hoyer's office said the decision to distribute the report comes, in part, because of the growing number of AIDS cases in Prince George's County, most of which lies in his congressional district, and as a result of Hoyer's work as chairman of the House Democratic Leadership Task Force on AIDS.
Hoyer spokeswoman Karin Johanson said that as of July 31, Prince George's had 156 reported cases of AIDS, and 97 of those people have died of the disease.
"It's a growing epidemic, and we just feel that people have got to become more aware to understand it and to protect themselves," she said.
In choosing to distribute the report, Hoyer joins a growing number of members of Congress considering distribution of AIDS-related information to their constituents.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Public Health Service had limited to 1,000 the number of copies of Koop's report available to congressional offices. But shortly after Rep. Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) requested and received copies for the 268,000 households in his district, the ceiling was lifted by Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Brown.
Ellen Casselberry, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Service, said that about 7 million copies of the report have been requested by members of Congress.
Johanson said 30 to 40 members of Congress have either mailed copies of the report to their constituents or are awaiting receipt of the pamphlets.
The Rockville City Council approved the mailing in a 4-to-1 vote Monday night, but was unable to decide whether to distribute copies of the report, or whether to reproduce its contents in the city's newsletter, Rockville Reports, which is issued twice a month to every household in the city.