Washington State Health Board Makes Permanent Switch From Code-Based to Names-Based HIV Reporting
The Washington State Board of Health on Wednesday voted unanimously to make permanent a rule that requires state health officials to record new HIV cases using the names of people who test positive, instead of codes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Davidow, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/15). CDC does not consider code-based HIV reporting to be accurate, and federal officials have said they will withhold funds from states that use code-based reporting rather than confidential names-based reporting. Local health departments in Washington previously recorded HIV-positive patients' names and encoded them before reporting their HIV statistics to the state (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/27). The state in March instituted a temporary rule changing the reporting requirement from a code-based to a names-based system. Eight community organizations that provide HIV testing, counseling and prevention services in December 2005 asked the state Department of Health to include a clause in the policy saying that the state would revert back to the code-based system in the event of federal policy changes. According to the Post-Intelligencer, the state Board of Health on Wednesday did not include such a clause in the rule but included a clause requiring a review if federal policy changes. In addition, some community organizations objected to a provision in the rule allowing local health departments to keep the names on file because of concerns about security breaches. Some epidemiologists and public health experts said the provision would allow for better communication with patients, a reduction in record duplication and more accurate tracking of the epidemic. Anonymous HIV testing will continue to be available in the state, the Post-Intelligencer reports (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.