Pennsylvania Should Approve Names-Based HIV-Tracking System, Editorial Says
A panel meeting this week representing the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Mark Schweiker (R) should "put an end to the waiting" and give the "go-ahead" to state health officials to proceed with a names-based HIV reporting system, a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial states. Pennsylvania has used a names-based tracking system for AIDS cases for 20 years and has been debating an HIV reporting system for the last five years, the editorial says, adding that the delay in implementing such a system has come because of debate over whether the system should use names or some other unique identifier. HIV/AIDS groups and some Democratic lawmakers have opposed a names-based system out of concern that people will not be tested for "fear their names will leak out." Such fears are unfounded, the Inquirer says, noting that the state has done an "excellent job of preserving the confidentiality of names-based reporting of AIDS." In addition, the state health department has proposed establishing 130 anonymous HIV-testing sites that would "leave it up to individuals to disclose if they test HIV-positive," the editorial notes, adding that 34 states currently use names-based reporting systems, the method preferred by the CDC. "Like most states, Pennsylvania needs to get the best data on the scourge of HIV/AIDS" so it can "point to trouble spots and suggest public health strategies that might save lives," the Inquirer states, concluding, "That means collecting names, with care and confidentiality" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.