Washington: Groups to Protest Naming Patients With HIV
November 21, 2005
Beginning in June 2006, federal funding for some patient care will be withheld from states where doctors and clinics do not report HIV-infected residents by name. "The message over the past year has become very clear that reports must be name-based," Jack Jourden, director of infectious disease for the Washington Department of Health, told a recent State Board of Health meeting.
While federal regulations have always required the names of AIDS patients to be reported to local and state health departments, CDC, which tracks state HIV cases, says that reporting names of HIV-positive people is more accurate than a code-based system, in which patient names are encoded prior to being sent to the state.
In 1999, Washington began requiring physicians and clinics to report names in order to better track the epidemic. But in a compromise with protesting advocacy groups, the state agreed to a name-encoding system.
Federal funds for low-income patient care are allocated to states based on the numbers of HIV and AIDS cases reported to CDC, which then turns over the data to another agency for distribution of funds. According to Jourden, Washington stands to lose about $5 million for indigent patients whose names are encoded in state records if it does not switch over to names reporting by CDC's deadline of June 30.
Tina Podlodowski, executive director of Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the state's largest HIV/AIDS service organization, challenges the assertion that names reporting will make the system more accurate. And she said it could result in fewer people seeking testing. "A lot of the reason people don't get tested now is because of fear and discrimination," she said.
Under state law, anonymous HIV testing would be allowed to continue. The names of HIV-positive patients who test anonymously would not be reported until they sought treatment from a clinic or doctor.
Public hearings on the change will be held in Seattle and Spokane in December, said Jourden.
11.12.05; Warren King
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.