Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CA: Governor Ends 20-year-old HIV Policy

The Los Angeles Times reports that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has signed SB 699 (Soto) into law. The new law changes the way that the state of California conducts surveillance of HIV cases from a "unique identifier" code-based system to one that uses names and other identifying information. The bill was supported by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles, San Franciso AIDS Foundation and other large AIDS "service" organizations. MadProfessah and other activists opposed the bill. Despite unchallenged claims that the current policy of maintaining the privacy of HIV positive individuals was "flawed," the real reason for the change is revealed in one of the last paragraphs in the news story on the switch to names-based HIV reporting:

According to new provisions in the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding to states and metropolitan areas for HIV/AIDS care, states using patient codes will no longer be eligible for funds, which will be allocated later this year. Los Angeles County, which records approximately 1,500 to 2,000 new HIV diagnoses each year, is set to receive $34.9 million this year.


Tracking the HIV epidemic accurately is critical in determining where to allocate treatment and prevention grants. Full-blown AIDS cases are currently reported by name in California, but because symptoms of AIDS can take up to a decade to appear, AIDS data are not considered an accurate way to trace the spread of the disease.

"You can't fight any disease without knowing where the hotspots are," Weinstein said. "When you judge by AIDS cases, you are judging what happened 10 years ago. We need to know where the HIV-positive people are today."

That last sentence is pretty haunting in a state which has twice faced popular votes on statewide ballot propositions to quarantine and discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS in the last 20 years. Why, exactly, does Michael Weinstein and the State of California "need to know where the HIV positive people are today"?

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin