Georgia will implement an HIV reporting system by the end of the year, but health officials are still unsure whether the system will be name- or code-based, Southern Voice reports. There is still "lots of debate" on which approach to use, said Luke Shouse, acting section chief of HIV/AIDS surveillance for the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Before making a recommendation to the Board of Health, Shouse's office will reexamine the information from hearings held around the state in 1998 when HIV reporting was first proposed. But because of the looming deadline, similar community meetings will not be held this year, Shouse said. Public comment will be allowed after a draft proposal is presented to the Board of Health, which is likely to happen near the end of the summer.
AIDS advocates had objected to the idea of reporting HIV cases to the health department by name when the proposal was first floated in 1998. Instead, they had pushed for a code-based system that would use unique identifiers to track HIV cases. "If people know that if they test positive, they are going to have their name reported, it may delay the time until they get tested, and if they know they will have their name reported when they seek services, they may delay seeking those services," said Jeff Graham, executive director of AIDS Survival Project. However, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends name-based reporting to reduce duplicate records and incomplete information. Most states that have implemented HIV reporting systems record the cases by name.