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AIDS Activists Decry Names Proposal

June 6, 2001

Members of AIDS organizations joined a half-dozen Pennsylvania state legislators Monday in Harrisburg to protest a proposal for names-based HIV testing. Listing persons who test positive for the AIDS virus in a state database would discourage thousands of people from being tested, they said. "If you're telling people their names are going into a file in the state, they're going to walk away" from testing, said Barry Busch, an Upland resident with AIDS.

The CDC recommended in 1999 that all states adopt names- based reporting for HIV, and so far 39 have done so. Philadelphia's database of reportable diseases tracks 52 illnesses, including AIDS, measles, Legionnaires' disease, syphilis and meningitis. "We've never had a breach of the confidential system," said Richard McGarvey, a health department spokesperson. Pennsylvania has recorded about 24,900 cases of AIDS, and about 23,000 more state residents may be HIV-positive.

But state Rep. Victor J. Lescovitz said the department should adopt a different HIV tracking system that would better protect patients' privacy. His proposal would require those who test positive for HIV to include several pieces of information, such as a birth date and partial Social Security number, on a form that would allow the state to track their status without knowing their name. McGarvey said the department had considered this system, but concluded it would be less efficient and harder to implement. The state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission has until June 21 to provide comments on names-based reporting to the health department.


Back to other CDC news for June 6, 2001

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
06.05.01; Timothy D May



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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