Connecticut to Introduce Names-Based HIV Tracking System
The Connecticut state Department of Public Health early next year will begin gathering data on HIV-positive adults, including their names, unless individuals say they wish to remain anonymous, the Hartford Courant reports. The decision ends months of internal and external department debate on the best way to collect data on adult HIV cases. Dr. Joxel Garcia, state commissioner of public health, was expected to reveal a tracking decision in June, but delayed the action until he could receive "as much feedback as possible," department spokesperson William Gerrish said. Gerrish said that the new plan "responds to the needs expressed by the HIV community." However, Laurie Sylla, executive director of the HIV Action Initiative in Hartford, said on Tuesday that she and many other HIV activists would have preferred a "unique identifier" system, which would convert names into a numerical code to protect individuals' identities. She said that some individuals may be "frightened away" from being tested, citing fears of discrimination if names "leak out." The dual system, in which patients may opt for anonymity, is reportedly the only one of its kind in the nation, and health care providers and clinics will be responsible for informing patients of that option. Gerrish said that as the system is implemented, these providers will have to be educated. Because antiretroviral drugs have extended the lives of HIV-positive people, it is no longer possible to infer HIV infection rates from reported AIDS cases. Gerrish said that the system will "allow the department to obtain a level of detail needed to better understand the dynamics of HIV infection" and help the department "satisfy future federal requirements to obtain prevention funding" (Condon, Hartford Courant, 11/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.