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Governor signs
California names-based HIV reporting law

Governor signs
California names-based HIV reporting law

California will scrap codes-based HIV reporting system and track cases by names.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday signed a bill that requires the state to begin tracking HIV cases by name instead of through the alphanumeric codes-based system that has been used in the state for several years. The legislation will put HIV reporting on par with more than 80 other infectious diseases in the state, including hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, and chlamydia.

The alphanumeric code system currently used in California is inaccurate, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which plans soon to begin tying federal Ryan White AIDS grants to HIV case data from states that have names-based reporting systems. California would have lost up to $50 million in federal AIDS funds each year if it had continued to use its codes-based HIV reporting system.

The final version of the bill passed the California assembly by a vote of 69-0 and the state senate by a 32-0 vote earlier this year. The State Office of AIDS will now begin working on the technical regulations of implementing the new names-based reporting system, which must be completed within one year.

Although some AIDS advocates worried that reporting HIV cases by name would deter some at-risk individuals from seeking HIV antibody tests, most AIDS groups across the state, including AIDS Project Los Angeles and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, supported the change.

"We thank the governor for helping us to protect vital funding to assure the highest response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in California," said Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, in a press statement. "Not only will this legislation protect the state from losing millions in funding, it will provide us with valid, uniform data to strengthen our planning of HIV/AIDS services. [The bill] also encourages individuals to learn their HIV status by ensuring the continued availability of anonymous HIV testing, and it contains strong provisions to protect the confidentiality of Californians who are HIV-positive." (The Advocate)

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