Illinois’ Plan To Implement Names-Based HIV Reporting Undermines Efforts To Fight Virus, Opinion Piece Says
The Illinois Department of Public Health's plan to begin requiring state health care officials to submit the names of people who test HIV-positive "will not serve as an incentive to do what we must do: encourage all people to know their status as early as possible in order to curb the spread of HIV," Brad Ogilvie -- director of Canticle Ministries, a faith-based advocacy group that works to educate the community about HIV/AIDS -- writes with 12 others in a Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece (Ogilvie et al., Chicago Sun-Times, 10/28). The move is in response to a CDC recommendation that states implement names-based reporting because alphanumeric code-based reporting, which Illinois currently uses, often has been inaccurate or incomplete. In addition, some federal funding distributed under the Ryan White CARE Act beginning next year will be associated with the number of HIV cases in each state, as reported by CDC (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/21). According to the authors, it is "disturbing" that some major HIV/AIDS service organizations are "shifting their positions" or "remaining silent" about the policy change, adding that a "strong voice must be heard that denounces" the names-based reporting policy. The authors say that "countless" HIV-positive people "live in fear that their family, friends, employers and churches might find out they have the virus," adding, "To add to the fear by reporting them by name to the government will only drive away those whom we most need to reach." Effective efforts to reduce the spread of HIV are made "when people feel safe to self-disclose but their confidentiality is otherwise maintained," the authors say, concluding, "For our state and federal governments to do otherwise is wrong. And for AIDS activists and advocates to be silent or to alter their agency policies to endorse this is a move in the wrong direction" (Chicago Sun-Times, 10/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.