Names-Based HIV Reporting Necessary to Combat AIDS in California, Editorial Says
California "embraced an ill-conceived public health policy" when it permitted first-stage HIV infections to be reported anonymously to health departments, rather than by name, a Bakersfield Californian editorial says. Anonymity "cripples the ability of public health officials to notify partners of the risk they face," the editorial says, noting that identifying patients and partners could help officials "more accurately chart the spread of disease" and encourage counseling and early treatment. While AIDS is "raging out of control" in other parts of the world, the editorial says that Americans should not be "overconfident about the progress being made back home." The editorial points out that the number of cases is rising in part because of "dangerous overconfidence among promiscuous sex partners" and new drug-resistant viral strains that "now may be progressing more rapidly." The editorial says in the United States, "[w]e have no one but ourselves to blame for the resurgence of cases, especially in California," as "[a]lthough devilishly complex biologically," the disease is "easily preventable." The editorial concludes, "Early and named reporting works. Vigorous epidemic control measures work. Public education works. ... [I]nsist that the Legislature make HIV reporting mandatory by name so that public health officials can intervene in new cases" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.