HIV REPORTING: Bakersfield Newspaper Voices Support
An editorial in the Bakersfield Californian says the federal government's recommendation that all states track the names of HIV-infected persons "vindicates a nearly decade-long effort led in California by the Kern County Health Department." The editorial notes that "[a]s early as 1989, Kern County Health Officer Dr. B.A. Jinadu sought backing from the California Conference of County Health Officers for a reporting law." Jinadu was unsuccessful in initial attempts to win the group's support, but "last year the group supported a resolution calling for a change in state law to require reportability." Mandatory HIV reporting in California also got a boost when the California Medical Association gave its backing, a move the editorial notes followed Los Angeles County HIV Epidemiology Program Manager Dr. Peter Kerndt's decision to support Kern County's position on the issue. In addition, the California Conference of AIDS Program Directors "passed a reportability motion" last year, a measure "long called for by" David Martin, Kern County AIDS program manager.
While "gay rights constituencies in the Bay Area and San Diego County still oppose reportability," the Californian says "[i]t always has been irresponsible to oppose the same kind of reportability for a nearly always fatal infectious disease, such as HIV/AIDS as is required for everything from mumps to typhoid fever. And for the same reason: protection of the public and more effective delivery of health care to the patient." The editorial concludes: "[W]ith the advent of a new class of AIDS management drugs known as protease inhibitors, early intervention is vital to dramatically extend lifespans and quality of lives of patients. It is almost inconceivable that some groups which stand to gain the most from early intervention oppose the best policies to help bring about medical progress on a large scale -- and for reasons which have long been hopelessly out of date. They and the Legislature should take a page from the Kern County Health Department's book and try to think progressively" (3/21).