Allegheny County, Pa., Board of Health Approves HIV Reporting Plan
The Allegheny County, Pa., Board of Health on Wednesday approved a plan that would require doctors, labs and other health care providers to report all new HIV infections to the county health department, the Associated Press reports. New cases would have to be reported within 15 days of the receipt of test results, and providers who violated the law could face a criminal fine of $300 and a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Reports "must include patients' identities," but patients can be identified through one of three indicators -- their name, a code number or a "demographic profile that is not unique to the individual." The profile would be "distinguishable" enough, however, to keep physicians or labs from reporting the same case twice, health department spokesperson Guillermo Cole said (Associated Press, 3/29). Cole added that of the 59 diseases and conditions that doctors are required to report to county health officials, HIV is the "only condition where patients have the option of confidentiality" (Nearing, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/29). Health department officials hope that the option of anonymity will encourage individuals to get tested and get treatment. For the law to take effect, it still must be signed by Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, who "is expected" to approve the plan, according to the Associated Press. If enacted, Allegheny would become the first county in Pennsylvania to implement mandatory reporting of HIV cases (Associated Press, 3/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.