Illinois State Public Health Director Announces Major Change in HIV Reporting

SPRINGFIELD Ill. -- In his opening remarks at the 14th annual HIV/STD Conference, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, announced a significant change in how HIV positive test results are reported. Currently, healthcare personnel report HIV positive test results to the state anonymously by using a unique patient code identifier, but the state will now begin steps to make the change to name-based reporting.

This has been a long-standing debate within the medical community and HIV/AIDS groups about using name-based reporting versus, patient coding and we will make sure that security is of the utmost importance, said Whitaker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strongly urged all states to implement name-based reporting to ensure consistent and accurate HIV reporting.

Illinois, the remaining 11 states and the District of Columbia currently using patient code reporting will be making the change to name-based reporting to ensure the same system is being used nationwide. Illinois will begin reporting HIV cases by name about January 1, 2006. The CDC will help Illinois make a smooth transition along with a 19-member steering committee, which Whitaker has named.

The committee members include: Whitaker, lawmakers, HIV positive individuals, public health specialists, and HIV/AIDS community groups. The task force conducted its first meeting on Oct. 21.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is among the task force members that support Illinois decision to follow the CDCs recommendation. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago applauds action by the Department of Public Health to work with community stakeholders to carefully evaluate and strengthen the Departments security systems in order to protect the confidentiality of people living with HIV, said David Ernesto Munar, AIDS Foundation of Chicago associate director.

Illinois responded to community concerns and established an anonymous HIV reporting system in 1999 that has successfully recorded more than 13,000 cases of HIV and maintained the confidentiality of people with HIV. There are clear indications that federal funding will soon be calculated based on name-based HIV data, therefore states using the patient code identifier would see a dramatic cut in federal financial support.

The federal government will likely withhold millions in desperately needed AIDS funding from Illinois unless we move to name-based reporting, said Munar. At a time that HIV/AIDS is expandingand devastating communities of colorwe cannot afford to put our fragile systems of care in jeopardy.

Illinois has used name-based AIDS reporting since the early 1980s and has strong security and confidentiality practices in place, which have protected the confidentiality of AIDS cases. Name-based HIV reporting will be no different. While names will be used for service providers and medical personnel to report HIV cases to the state public health department, the department will only report numbers to the CDC, not names.

More than 600 healthcare professionals, counselors, public health officials and social workers are attended the 14th annual HIV/STD Conference: United Approaches for Diverse Challenges. The three-day conference allowed participants to network, share ideas, and gain further knowledge about HIV and STDs to enhance their work. The conference was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Public Health Association.

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

 

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