A Georgia proposal to implement a names-based HIV reporting system has generated a low volume of
objections during the first part of a public comment period on the program, Luke Shouse, the state
HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator, told the Augusta Chronicle. Georgia--the only state that does not have a system of collecting HIV case data with personal identifiers--in August announced plans to establish a names-based HIV reporting system. The state has collected the names and addresses of all residents diagnosed with AIDS since the 1980s in order to track the progression of the disease and to verify whether an individual is eligible for state AIDS assistance.
The state Division of Public Health said that the current system of tracking HIV cases without personal identifiers, such as a patient's name or a unique identifying code, is not useful because the federal government requires more detailed information when determining state HIV/AIDS funding levels. Under the new system, doctors would be required to report the names of people who test positive for HIV. Test results would remain confidential, and only the health department would have access to the names. Thirty-five states use names to track HIV, 13 rely on codes, and New Hampshire allows cases to be reported with or without a name.
Only about 25 E-mails--most of them objecting to the names-based system--have been sent to the state Division of Public Health since the public comment period began on September 17, the Chronicle reports. "I would have expected more comment," Shouse said. Although most of the people who sent E-mails said they support HIV reporting in some form, most said they felt name-based reporting was not the best option. Health officials are expected to make a decision about the proposal this fall after the conclusion of the public comment period on October 16. If the Department of Human Resources approves the program's preliminary budget, the registry could go into effect as early as January 1.