HIV REPORTING: Bill Draws Controversy, but Little Action from Davis
Much to the disappointment of AIDS and gay-rights activists, Gov. Gray Davis has yet to take action on AB 103, which would "create a confidential HIV-reporting system in California that would keep the infected person's identity secret even to public health officials," the Ventura County Star reports. The bill, supported by over 75 AIDS organizations and gay and lesbian groups, as well as Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, would conflict with a recent CDC recommendation that states establish a names-based reporting system for HIV patients. Instead, California would devise a "unique identifier system, whereby public health officials would be notified of new cases of HIV infections, but the reports on persons infected would reveal just a code number." While proponents contend that the confidential system is "needed to encourage people who might be infected to get tested, without the fear that their condition would become known to others," public health officials worry that the bill would "'make it illegal to practice public health' in attempting to control the spread of AIDS,'" preventing them from notifying the sexual partners of infected persons. In addition, they point to CDC studies of six states with names-based systems that showed an "overall increase in HIV testing." Dr. Cary Savitch, a Ventura County AIDS specialist, said, "I've been working day and night on getting [Davis] to veto it. You could not devise a more dangerous bill" (Herdt, 10/5).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.