The city of Philadelphia has received an indefinite extension in complying with a new Pennsylvania plan to report the names of people with HIV infection, Philadelphia Gay News reports. The original deadline for the implementation of names-based reporting in the state was in October, but health officials extended it until December 2 in Philadelphia when city health department authorities said they were unable to meet the original deadline. The indefinite extension for the city was granted at the beginning of this month.
"We've been in discussion with the Philadelphia health department, and we're delaying the implementation of confidential HIV reporting," Amy Kelchner, a spokeswoman for state health secretary Robert Zimmerman, told PGN. "We can't give a date for implementation because Philadelphia, obviously, is not ready. We're trying to work with Philadelphia as best we can."
AIDS activists and some health officials in Philadelphia had opposed names-based HIV reporting for fears that it would discourage people from being tested for the virus and that the confidentiality of people with HIV might be compromised. With the election of Democrat Ed Rendell as Pennsylvania's new governor, AIDS activists hope to revisit the issue of names-based reporting when Rendell takes office in January. Rendell reportedly prefers a code-based HIV tracking system instead of names-based reporting. "I'm not popping the champagne just yet, but we're on the right track," said Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. "We came within spitting distance of names reporting in Philadelphia. Thankfully, the change of administration gives us an opportunity to revisit HIV tracking and do it right."