A community on Maryland's Eastern Shore, which was forced to grapple with the controversial issue of AIDS, has decided to allow a 5-year-old boy who has the deadly virus to attend public school.

The little boy, a hemophiliac who likely contracted the virus from a blood transfusion, attends Denton Elementary School in Caroline County, officials say.

The boy tested positive early this year for HIV, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

In contrast to other localities where residents have protested plans to send AIDS-infected youngsters to school, officials say, Denton residents have reacted relatively calmly.

Teachers at the school said few of the children realize that the boy is any different from them.

The boy's mother told county school officials that she was enrolling her son at the school.

Dr. John Grant, Caroline County's health officer, said about a dozen HIV-positive children are enrolled in public schools in Maryland, but no family has ever told the whole community in advance.

School officials met and decided to allow the boy to enroll in school, pointing out that he did not pose a serious threat to his classmates because he has full control of his bowel and bladder and he is not an aggressive child.