California Doctors, Laboratories Begin Code-Based Reporting of New HIV Cases
California health officials today will begin requiring doctors and laboratories to report new HIV cases to the state, the Los Angeles Times reports. California, which previously tracked only AIDS cases, will track HIV cases using a "controversial" alphanumeric code system instead of using HIV-positive individuals' names (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/1). According to the Contra Costa Times, the coded tracking system is "an attempt to balance the need for more information" on HIV with patients' right to privacy (Khan, Contra Costa Times, 7/1). Those supporting such a system say HIV "remains a stigmatizing disease" and that a names-based reporting system could be enough to discourage some people from being tested. Those opposing a coded HIV reporting system say that HIV is "no different" than the 80 other diseases, including AIDS, that are already required to be reported to the state using patients' names. Some California clinics will continue to offer anonymous HIV tests and will not be required to report test results (Los Angeles Times, 7/1). The CDC requires that all states devise an HIV tracking system by July 1, 2004 (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1). While the CDC "favors" a names-based HIV reporting system, it has not forbidden coded reporting systems. Currently only nine other states use a coded tracking system for HIV cases, while 34 states track new HIV cases by name (Los Angeles Times, 7/1). For more information on states' HIV reporting policies, as well as other statistics on HIV/AIDS in the United States, go to www.statehealthfactsonline.org.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.