Massachusetts Expected To Adopt Confidential Names-Based Reporting System for HIV Cases Later This Year
Massachusetts public health officials are expected by the fall of 2006 to shift from a code-based to a confidential names-based reporting system for reporting new HIV cases, the Boston Globe reports. The decision, which was "reached quietly in recent weeks," comes in response to increasing pressure from CDC officials to establish uniform standards in HIV reporting, including the use of names instead of codes, the Globe reports. According to the state officials, if Massachusetts does not comply with federal requirements, the state Department of Public Health could risk losing $9 million and the Boston Public Health Commission could lose $6 million annually in federal funding. The funds provide a range of services for the state's 24,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. The names-based reporting system would keep confidential records of HIV cases within a secure computer network, officials said. Massachusetts already uses a names-based system to report cases of sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis and gonorrhea. The system also records information such as a person's age, address and risk factors, the Globe reports. The state's Health Council must approve the reporting system before the state can adopt it, according to the Globe. The AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, New England's largest private provider of HIV services, has said it would challenge the shift to confidential names-based reporting, saying that such a system might deter people from obtaining HIV tests. However, Matthew McKenna, chief of the surveillance branch in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said, "We're trying to break the stalemate with the number of infections we have in this country, and it's important we have information that is as timely and reliable as possible." California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last week signed a law mandating names-based reporting for HIV cases in the state; seven states and the District of Columbia still use a code-based system (Smith, Boston Globe, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.