March 12, 1999
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) announced today that it opposes the New York State Department of Health's draft regulations for the implementation of the state's Partner Notification Law. Contrary to recommendations from the New York State AIDS Advisory Council and from an overwhelming majority of AIDS organizations, including GMHC, the regulations state that the names and addresses of infected persons be reported. In addition, the regulations propose to extend reporting beyond the law's clearly stated criteria, even mandating that HIV-related tests used in clinical monitoring be reported.
"If implemented, these regulations will interfere with efforts to provide services to people living with HIV and hamper our ability to reduce HIV infection rates among at-risk populations," said Ronald S. Johnson, GMHC's Managing Director for Public Policy. "In this era of new treatments for HIV infection, we believe it is imperative that the state actively promote HIV testing and counseling. These regulations pose a threat to our attempt to encourage testing for those at risk and treatment for those already diagnosed as HIV positive."
In addition to calling for a names-based system, the DOH proposes the adoption of contact tracing whereby a health department official would authorize direct interview with the index case by local health department staff. The DOH regulations also require documentation of HIV status in order to receive medical care. "The proposed regulations do not provide sufficient protection for women, or anyone else with HIV, against the very real threat of domestic violence," said Elizabeth Gery, M.D., Medical Director of the David Geffen Center for HIV Prevention and Health Education at GMHC.
"The Partner Notification Law itself does not mandate names reporting as the method to report cases of HIV infection," Ronald Johnson noted. "We call on the Department of Health to revise these regulations to eliminate the requirement that names and addresses be reported. We oppose the extension of the law to include criteria for reporting that were not initially sought, such as HIV-related tests used in clinical monitoring, and we call upon the DOH to show more explicit support for anonymous testing, including the availability of such testing through public and private agencies."
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Gay Men's Health Crisis is the nation's oldest and largest AIDS organization. We serve men, women and children with HIV and AIDS, educate the public about HIV prevention and treatment, and advocate for fair and effective legislation at all levels of government. Please visit our website at www.gmhc.org.