Calif. Gov. Signs Bill That Creates Names-Based HIV Reporting System
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday signed a bill (SB 699) that implements a confidential names-based reporting system for new HIV cases in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports (Keller, Los Angeles Times, 4/18). California's current HIV reporting system, which was implemented in 2002, uses alphanumeric codes that incorporate a patient's birth date, gender and elements of their last name. The California Assembly in March approved the bill, and the Senate approved it earlier this month (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/10). The new reporting system will ensure that California does not lose about $50 million in federal funds annually for HIV/AIDS treatment. New provisions under the Ryan White CARE Act mean that states reporting new HIV cases using codes will not receive federal funds beginning Oct. 1, 2006 (Los Angeles Times, 4/18). "I am signing [SB] 699 to protect California's federal funding for vital HIV and AIDS services and to strengthen confidentiality protections of HIV and AIDS patient information," Schwarzenegger said in a letter to members of the California Senate (Schwarzenegger letter, 4/17).
"We thank the governor for helping us to protect vital funding. Not only will this legislation protect the state from losing millions in CARE Act funding, it will provide us with valid, uniform data to strengthen our planning of HIV/AIDS services," San Francisco AIDS Foundation Executive Director Mark Cloutier said in a statement, adding that the bill "also encourages individuals to learn their HIV status by ensuring the continued availability of anonymous HIV testing, and it contains strong provisions to protect the confidentiality of Californians who are HIV- positive" (SF AIDS Foundation release, 4/17). AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein also praised the governor and the Legislature for "recognizing the urgency of this issue." Craig Vincent-Jones, executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV, said, "We've done the right thing for the state, for public health, and especially for people with HIV/AIDS." The bill "will save lives and money," Carla Bailey, co-chair of the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV, said, adding, "Names-based reporting will give California a better chance at getting -- and keeping -- people in care and treatment" (AHF release, 4/17).