AIDS in a few years is likely to become the fifth leading killer of Americans from birth to age 24 if present trends continue, say federal health officials.
Meanwhile, a General Accounting Office report says President Reagan's Domestic Policy Council got in the way of attempts by Public Health Service officials to launch an anti-AIDS education program in the spring of 1987.The report is also critical of television networks for declining to run many anti-AIDS public service spots when they did become available, particularly those dealing with condoms as a way to prevent spread of the deadly virus.
The report, issued last week, said further that there were problems with getting a national AIDS hotline operating at full speed, although it said those lapses had been mostly corrected by last summer.
Dr. Antonia Novello, deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Bowen on Monday that AIDS is already the ninth leading cause of death among children 1 to 4 years old and the seventh leading cause of deaths among young people age 15 to 24.
If present trends continue, she said, the disease soon will move up to No. 5. The report did not provide a list of the other major causes of death.
As of Dec. 12, 1,291 cases of AIDS had been reported among infants and children under age 13 and an additional 325 cases in the 13-to-19-year group. Of those, 717 who were under 13 at the time of their diagnosis have already died, along with 174 who were adolescents when diagnosed.
"The official figures include only those children whose condition was reported to the Centers for Disease Control," said a report from a task force headed by Novello. "Probably for every child who meets the CDC definition of AIDS, another two to 10 are infected with HIV. It is estimated that by 1991 there will be at least 10,000 to 20,000 HIV-infected children in the United States."
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, and health officials are growing increasingly concerned that a large majority of those infected eventually will develop AIDS and die.