Pennsylvania Must Implement Names-Based HIV Reporting System, Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial States
No one can say for sure what trends in HIV transmission and infection are emerging in Pennsylvania due to a lack of mandatory HIV reporting policies, which means that "an untold number of pre-AIDS patients are invisible to health officials," a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial states. The editorial notes that Pennsylvania is "one of the few states" that does not require doctors to report HIV cases, although it does have a system in place for documenting information on individuals with AIDS. The lack of information means that "Pennsylvania -- seventh highest state for AIDS cases -- could be sitting on an HIV time bomb," the editorial states. While AIDS activists have "blam[ed]" Gov. Tom Ridge (R) for his "foot-dragging" on the issue while he "was still being eyed for the vice presidential slot," this view is "too pat a bit of scapegoating," the editorial says. AIDS activists themselves, along with physicians, have "slowed things down by fighting over data collection methods," with some arguing in favor of coded reporting and others supporting a confidential names-based system. The editorial supports names-based reporting methods, stating, "Coded reporting -- used by only a handful of states -- is still so imperfect that it often does not provide critical demographic information, such as gender and race, on new HIV patients." The editorial says that although the state should implement a names-based reporting system, it also must do more to promote anonymous HIV testing, which is "a needed alternative for any so fearful of having their names collected by the state that they shun HIV testing" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.