HIV/AIDS REPORTING: Privacy Concerns Must Be Addressed
Implementing names-based reporting policies without first working to address patients' concerns could "undermine the benefits of both testing and HIV surveillance," according to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Dr. William Woods and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies interviewed 130 men who reported having unprotected anal sex in the past year, and at least one previous negative HIV test. Half of the participants were asked twice to state their intention of undergoing HIV testing if names-based reporting were required -- once before they were read a paragraph underscoring the "public health benefits of names-based reporting," including tracking and targeted prevention efforts -- and once after they were read the paragraph. A second group was asked to state their intentions to test under the same requirement only after they were read the paragraph. Of those in the group asked to respond twice, 63% said they would not be willing to undergo the testing before they were read the benefits paragraph. Nineteen percent of those men changed their minds after they were read the paragraph. In the group asked if they would test after they were read the paragraph, 44% said they would not and 16% said they did not know. The most commonly cited concerns among those not wanting to be tested were misuse of the information (46%), followed by the potential loss of insurance coverage (35%). Of those who said they would agree to test under a names-based reporting policy, 53% said they would provide their real names, 42% said they would not and 5% were unsure. The authors concluded that given the "level of deterrence measured among this population, more should be done to better understand and address their concerns before a names-based reporting system is implemented" (Woods et al., American Journal of Public Health, 7/99 issue).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.