Mandatory HIV Reporting Gaining Advocates
21 August 1997
YORK -- The New York Times reports that as AIDS treatment
advances continue, the privacy concerns that have long set
HIV-infection apart from other infectious diseases such as
tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and syphilis have begun to fade.
officials, health professionals and a growing number of
advocates for people with AIDS are changing their positions
regarding mandatory testing and notification that have long
been used by medical practitioners in slowing the spread of
other infectious diseases.
drug therapies have made early HIV detection and treatment
more beneficial than ever before. For that reason, AIDS
specialists and public advocates that fought tooth and nail in
defence of privacy rights are now coming around to see that,
all things considered, such rights may no longer be in the
patient's best interest.
Times reports the Washington-based AIDS Action Council, which
represents more than 1,400 AIDS service agencies across the
country, is in the process of reviewing its opposition to
states which demand all positive HIV results be forwarded to
public health departments.
time to recognize that the earth has shifted underneath all of
us fighting the AIDS epidemic," the Council's executive
director, Dan Zingale, told the Times.
all, 26 states now have mandatory HIV reporting, and Florida
and New Mexico are planning to implement such programs soon.
The Times notes, however, that these states account for only
24 percent of the cases reported to the Centers of Disease
Control. Of the 10 with the highest number of reported cases,
only New Jersey and Louisiana have adopted HIV reporting.
of the principal forces behind the new shift in thinking has
been the CDC, which has become much more vocal in advocating
nationwide mandatory HIV reporting in the last six months. Dr.
John Ward, who heads the CDC's HIV-AIDS surveillance branch
told the Times, "We are in an era where there is more of
a compelling need for HIV surveillance than 18 months
vaccine research and targeting scarce resources -- be they
preventive, service-oriented, or medical -- to new areas where
infections are on the rise are just some of the benefits
mandatory reporting would advance.
Jones, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, told
the Times, "Everything is changing so rapidly right now
that most of us are in a position of having to re-evaluate
everything we held to be gospel for many years."
C. Barillas, Editor