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Policy & Politics
Pennsylvania: State OKs Code-Based HIV Reporting for Philadelphia

April 7, 2004

In a March 25 letter, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson approved a conditional proposal in which Philadelphia could report HIV cases using unique identifiers instead of patients' names. The rest of the state will continue using the name-based HIV reporting system, implemented in October 2002. For more than a decade, the city has used the unique identifier system for AIDS cases.

Philadelphia rejected the name-based HIV reporting system over concerns that people might avoid HIV testing if they could not remain anonymous. But former state Health Secretary Robert Zimmerman Jr. dismissed those concerns, saying that a name-based system would eliminate duplicate reports and ensure those with the disease were properly treated. During the standoff, Philadelphia refused to supply the state with HIV data -- the only county in the nation to not supply such data to state officials, according to CDC.

Under the agreement, Johnson conditionally permitted Philadelphia to use unique identifiers in its reporting system. But the system's efficacy must be evaluated before it is made permanent; the city must demonstrate it is providing proper HIV/AIDS counseling and care; and the system must not jeopardize federal AIDS funding.

"It's a decision for which we're very grateful," said Philadelphia Health Commissioner John Domzalski, saying that CDC's official assurance about continued AIDS funding is imminent. The city will begin sending the state its HIV data soon, he said.

"We need to move forward," state Health Department spokesperson Richard McGarvey said on Tuesday. "Not having Philadelphia data creates a big hole in our knowledge," since the city comprises about half of the state's HIV cases.

No other state uses two HIV reporting systems, according to CDC data.

Back to other news for April 7, 2004

Excerpted from:
Associated Press
04.07.04; Joann Loviglio




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