In light of an increase in the number of AIDS-related cases in Prince William County -- 10 new cases were reported in 1987, up from three a year earlier -- state officials and county health officials are seeking legislation that in some cases would mandate testing for exposure to the AIDS virus and reporting those who test positive.

The legislation would require testing of individuals believed to have been exposed to AIDS through contact with a person who has tested positive, and reporting positive test results to state health officials.

Currently, officials can only request that individuals believed to have been exposed to the AIDS virus be tested, and doctors must report only confirmed cases of AIDS, not individuals who have been exposed to the virus but do not have the disease itself.

The legislation has the support of Del. David G. Brickley (D-Woodbridge) and Dr. Jared Florance, Prince William's health director.

In addition, as the Virginia General Assembly prepares to meet in January, Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert has written state Attorney General Mary Sue Terry requesting that she consider legislation that would make it a crime for an individual to "recklessly or intentionally" infect others with the AIDS virus.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a fatal disease that attacks and destroys the body's immune system. The virus is transmitted through intimate sexual contact, infected blood and contaminated hypodermic needles. Homosexuals and intravenous drug users are at particular risk.

According to Florance, Prince William has had 52 known cases of individuals infected with the human-immunodeficiency virus, which can remain dormant in the body for years before becoming active enough to cause AIDS.

As of Dec. 7, Virginia had recorded 568 AIDS cases, officials said.

"I think we {the county health department} need some authority for testing we don't have right now," Florance said. "We've been fortunate that people have volunteered" for testing.

"Our position is that you should be responsible for your care and the care of others," he said. "Most of our concern is to protect ourselves, not others. I would like to change that."

Of the 52 Prince William residents known to have been infected with the AIDS virus, 10 developed AIDS. Six of the 10 have died, Florance said. "HIV infections are more of a concern to me because the infected person can transmit the virus to another without knowing about it," he said.

Medical experts say the virus is transmitted mainly by persons who are infected with the AIDS virus but do not show symptoms of the disease.

To illustrate how easily the virus can be transmitted, Florance cited the case of an intravenous drug user in the county who was infected with AIDS and who said he had had six sexual partners. One of the partners said he had had sexual contact with several teen-agers.

The county health department located four of those named, two of whom tested positive for the virus. Florance said that "fortunately" all four agreed to be tested. "If they had refused, we could not have done anything about it."

Florance also said that heterosexuals and children are fast becoming the primary victims. "In this community, it is a heterosexual disease," he said.

Of the 52 AIDS-related cases, 19 were heterosexuals (including an unknown number of intravenous drug users), 19 were homosexuals (including at least two intravenous drug users), four were infected through blood transfusions, and 10 cases are of undetermined origin, Florance said.