HIV REPORTING: Legislature Should Support Unique-Identifier System
It is "essential that the CDC, state Legislature and the Davis administration act quickly to secure the necessary resources to implement a non-name-based HIV reporting system," asserts state Sen. Martha Escutia (D), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Writing an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Escutia agrees with the CDC's call for all states to conduct HIV reporting, but maintains that California must refrain from using a names-based reporting system because of the lingering "stigma and discrimination associated with the disease" that could deter many residents from getting tested or seeking treatment. Lending her support to the Legislature's proposal for a tracking system that uses confidential, unique identifier codes, she applauded Assemblywoman Carole Migden's (D-San Francisco) AB 103, which would have created a unique-identifier system. Migden's bill cleared the Legislature in August but was vetoed by Davis, who nonetheless threw his support behind the issue and "promised to implement the system once adequate funding is obtained." Escutia contends that this type of system will give Californians "a more accurate picture of the HIV epidemic, without creating fear among those living with HIV." By contrast, a name-based system would have "particularly negative public health consequences. ... [g]iven the distrust of the government within the Latino community," Escutia says. Shrugging off the argument that sexual partners of HIV-positive individuals are easier to identify and notify under a names-based system, Escutia cites a UC-San Francisco study that found that not to be the case. She concludes with a call for policymakers to support the unique-identifier system and "vigorously oppose efforts that would senselessly drive individuals away from HIV testing and care" (Los Angeles Times, 1/17).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.