Doctors, Laboratories Today Begin to Track HIV Cases with New Code-Based System
State health officials today will begin to require doctors and laboratories to report new HIV cases to the state under a new regulation, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state, which in the past only tracked AIDS cases, will begin to track HIV cases with a "controversial" alphanumeric code system, rather than with patients' names (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/1). According to the Contra Costa Times, the code-based system represents "an attempt to balance the need for more information" on HIV with patients' right to privacy (Khan, Contra Costa Times, 7/1). Supporters of the code-based system point out that HIV "remains a stigmatizing disease" and that a system based on names could prompt some individuals not to undergo HIV tests. Opponents, however, "say HIV should be no different" than the 80 other diseases, such as AIDS, that doctors and labs must report to the state with patients' names. Under the regulation, some clinics that offer anonymous HIV tests will not have to report the results to the state (Los Angeles Times, 7/1). The CDC ordered states to develop a system to track HIV cases by July 1, 2004 (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1). Although the CDC prefers a name-based system, the agency has not prohibited code-based systems. Nine other states use a code-based system to track new HIV cases, while 34 states track cases with names (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.