New York: Law Not Affecting HIV Testing

New York's law requiring the names of HIV-positive individuals to be submitted to the state is not discouraging people from getting tested, according to a study by the Department of Health's AIDS Institute. "Most people didn't even know we had names-based reporting," said James Tesoriero, the institute's director of program evaluation and research and the study's lead author.

The HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Act, which went into effect June 1, 2000, mandates that unless people test anonymously, the names of persons with HIV and AIDS must be reported to state health officials. Previously, the names of AIDS cases only were reported the state. The law also requires that medical staff ask individuals who have tested HIV-positive to reveal the names of their sexual partners in a bid to notify them of their potential exposure to HIV. Providing names of sexual partners is voluntary.

Tesoriero and colleagues studied data collected between 1998 and 2004 from several HIV testing sites and surveys of 761 high-risk people recruited from STD clinics, gay bars, and needle exchanges. Just 26 percent of respondents knew that positive test results are reported by name. Women and older individuals were more likely to know about name-based reporting, while minorities and people ages 18-24 were less likely to know. Just 5 percent of participants cited concerns about their name being reported to the state as a reason to delay or avoid HIV testing. Fifty percent knew that naming sexual partners is voluntary.

The study, "The Effect of Name-Based Reporting and Partner Notification on HIV Testing in New York State," was published in the American Journal of Public Health (2007;97(9): doi:10.2105/AJPH.2006.092742).