December 8, 2005
Prompted by proposed changes to federal funding, Illinois will join 38 other states when it starts tracking HIV cases using patients' names in January. Currently, a person who tests HIV-positive in Illinois is assigned a code number when the case is reported to the state public-health system.
State officials expect that beginning in 2007, the federal government will add HIV data -- and not AIDS cases alone -- to its formula for apportioning money under the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds services for low-income and uninsured patients. If the planned change happens, only states conforming to CDC's standard of names-based tracking would have their HIV cases counted.
About 29,500 state residents have HIV/AIDS. If Illinois does not convert to names-based reporting, about 14,000 HIV patients who do not have an AIDS diagnosis would be excluded from CDC's count. That means the state could lose several million dollars in Ryan White funding if it does not report names, said Tom Hughes, a deputy director with the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The 14,000 HIV cases in the state's current code-based system will not be counted in the new system until they visit a health-care provider. David Munar, AIDS Foundation of Chicago's associate director and a member of the steering committee helping the state with the transition, said it will take time to build the database with numbers that may drive future federal funding.
Though Congress has yet to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, which expired in September, advocates are proposing revisions to it that would safeguard Illinois' funding during the transition from code- to names-based reporting.