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HIV Name-Based Reporting Has Improved HIV/AIDS Epidemic Surveillance

By Martha Kerr

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 07 - HIV name-based reporting and partner notification has resulted in improved monitoring of New York's HIV/AIDS epidemic, investigators with the New York State Department of Health report.

New York State's HIV Reporting and Partner Notification (HIVRPN) law became effective June 1, 2000. Dr. James M. Tesoriero of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute and colleagues conducted an analysis of its effects on HIV/AIDS disease surveillance.

Results are published in an early online release from the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Tesoriero's team interviewed 761 high-risk individuals to assess their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about HIV testing and reporting. The investigators also evaluated trends in HIV reporting according to publicly funded HIV testing and counseling programs, Medicaid records and New York's Maternal Pediatric Newborn Prevention and Care Program.

They found that that "the surveillance benefits associated with HIV name-based reporting are not being offset by unfavorable changes in HIV testing behaviors, including among those at high risk of acquiring HIV."

"High-risk individuals had limited awareness of the reporting and notification law, and few cited concern about named reporting as a reason for avoiding or delaying HIV testing," Dr. Tesoriero and associates found.

"HIV testing levels, post-test counseling rates and anonymous-to-confidential conversion rates among those who tested HIV positive were not affected by the law," they report.

"Medicaid-related HIV testing rates also remained stable," the New York investigators write. "HIV testing during pregnancy continued to trend upward following implementation of the law. Findings held true within demographic and risk-related subgroups."

"It is important to note that, in the New York program, people are not forced to provide partner names; anonymous HIV counseling and testing is available," Dr. Tesoriero told Reuters Health.

"The primary advantages of New York's HIVRPN program include better epidemiologic tracking of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and more effective partner notification to get persons exposed to HIV diagnosed and into care sooner," he said. "However, at the time the program was implemented there was concern that reporting of people with HIV by name to the health department and following up to notify partners might inhibit people from seeking HIV testing."

"Our study found no evidence that New York's HIVPRN program decreased people's attitudes toward HIV testing or the number of HIV tests done...We believe the program has been very effective in New York to meet (our goals)."

Am J Public Health 2007;97:1-8.