State Might Reconsider Coded HIV Reporting System
Some state officials and advocacy groups expect to revisit legislation that would require California to modify its HIV reporting system to use names rather than alphanumeric codes, the Los Angeles Times reports. California uses names to track other diseases -- including AIDS, which is caused by HIV -- in state databases.
CDC does not consider code-based systems to be sufficiently accurate, and federal officials could withhold funding for HIV treatment and prevention from states that do not use name-based reporting systems. A state task force last year estimated that California could lose as much as $50 million annually if it does not make the switch.
In a letter earlier this month, CDC Director Julie Gerberding recommended that states implement name-based HIV reporting systems, saying that the U.S. needs a "single, accurate system that can provide national data to monitor the scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic." California, six other states and the District of Columbia track HIV cases exclusively using alphanumeric codes.
Some public health officials said that thousands of cases have become backlogged because of incomplete reporting, while others say the alphanumeric system complicates efforts to monitor HIV rates and disburse funds. According to the Times, some people who supported the code-based system when it was launched in 2002 "say it is inevitable that the state will have to scrap it and start over."
Opponents of a name-based reporting system say that the potential for security breaches could deter people from being tested for HIV. State public health officials say they have taken appropriate measures to protect against such breaches (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/25).