The District of Columbia and Maryland may stand to lose heavily in federal AIDS grants if they persist in disallowing local health departments to record identities of people recently diagnosed with HIV infection.
The two jurisdictions figure among many in the country that collect data about new HIV cases using codes and not names. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a common name-based reporting for all HIV cases, and not particularly AIDS, which is necessary for keeping a track of the epidemic in the United States. This system if implemented will be the basis of disbursement of grants ($2.2billion annually)
This has been the practice for public health departments for many years to keep record of names of people with communicable diseases. This method ensures that the patients are treated in a manner that the infection does not spread to others.
"There is this opportunity to do good of getting people to find out about their HIV status so they can begin treatment if it's appropriate," said Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The organization however altered its stance against name-based reporting, a couple of month back.
Denise McWilliams of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, that mainly uses codes, said "some people will be driven away from the system if we cannot guarantee confidentiality. It may be the very people you want to most engage in testing and the health care.