Chicago Tribune Examines Controversy Surrounding Move From Code-Based HIV Reporting to Names-Based Reporting in Illinois
The Chicago Tribune on Dec. 27, 2005, examined the controversy surrounding the Illinois Department of Public Health's decision to this month begin requiring health care providers to submit to local health authorities the names of people who test HIV-positive rather than the alphanumeric codes they previously submitted (Peres, Chicago Tribune, 12/27/05). The decision was made in October 2005 in response to a CDC recommendation that states implement names-based reporting because code-based reporting often has been inaccurate or incomplete. This year, some federal funding distributed under the Ryan White CARE Act will be associated with the number of HIV cases in each state, as reported to CDC. Tom Hughes, Illinois' deputy director of health protection, said that although the new rule will require the state to collect the names of people getting confidential HIV testing, anonymous testing still will be available. With confidential testing, a person submits his or her name but the name is kept private, whereas with anonymous testing, no name is submitted (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/21/05). The new rule has some advocates and public health officials "waging a battle on two fronts: to prevent the loss of funding and to preserve the trust" of HIV-positive people, the Tribune reports. Some AIDS advocates are concerned the change will discourage people from seeking treatment early. "Anonymity has always been part of successful testing programs," Brad Ogilvie, head of the HIV prevention group Mosaic Initiative, said. However, some Illinois officials are seeking to reassure advocates and members of the public that confidentiality will be upheld. "We've been collecting names of AIDS patients for more than 20 years," Hughes said, adding, "We've never had a security breach of a patient's name in Illinois in all that time." Nanette Benbow, director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Surveillance in the Chicago Department of Public Health, said all HIV/AIDS case reports are kept in a locked room to which only two people have keys (Chicago Tribune, 12/27/05).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.