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California lawmakers OK HIV name tracking
Friday 7 April, 2006 10:37
The California Legislature passed a bill that requires doctors and clinics to report the names of residents who become infected with HIV to local health officials and the state Department of Health.
The bill, SB 699, cleared the Senate with a 32-0 vote after passing unanimously in the Assembly (67-0) last week.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the measure into law as early as next week.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has determined that names-based reporting is the most accurate method of HIV data collection. Starting in October, names-based reporting will become part of the process by which federal HIV/AIDS funds are allocated to states under the Ryan White CARE Act.
According to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which co-sponsored the bill, the data reported to the CDC will be an aggregate based on the state's names-based tracking, but the actual names will not be shared with federal officials.
"Not only will this legislation protect the state from losing millions in CARE Act funding, but it will ease the ability of localities to collect information about the epidemic, providing us with valid, uniform data for service and prevention planning," said Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
"SB 699 also ensures that anonymous testing will remain available, which should reduce the impact this legislation might have on deterring people from getting tested for HIV."
While the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other groups support the legislation, names-based tracking has some critics among HIV/AIDS service organisations.
"There is no good reason to do name reporting," LaWanda Johnson, press secretary for the National Association of People with AIDS, said in December. "It does not encourage testing. It does not achieve a high accuracy and reliability. It does nothing but discourage testing."
Johnson made the remark after Illinois passed a similar bill.
Names-based tracking systems are now in place in all but six states and the District of Columbia, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
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