Washington, D.C. -
A decision by the Centers for Disease Control only to count cases of HIV from states which record the patients names has resulted in a serious undercount that could impact on the funds some states receive from the federal government.
Fifteen 15 key Democrats in Congress are calling on CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding to include statistics from states which assign identification numbers rather than using patients names.
Two of the states, California and Massachusetts have high rates of HIV, but the CDC does not include them in the national statistics. Twelve other states and the District of Columbia also use identification markers other than names to ensure patient privacy.
But, the undercounts could have a profound effect on the money states receive the Ryan White CARE Act.
The Department of Health and Human Services is looking at using CDC data on HIV in determining how much states will receive in federal founding. At present, the funding is tied to the number of cases of full blown AIDS. HHS is expected to announce this summer if it will switch to the new formula.
AIDS care providers have been pressing the federal government to make the switch.
With new AIDS drugs people are remaining HIV-positive longer before developing full blown AIDS. By using the HIV numbers states could receive more money. But, if states which do not count names are not included they could actually lose money.
In a letter to Gerberding the 15 members of Congress including Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California say the CDC data is skewed.
"CDC's refusal to accept and utilize code-based data presents an inaccurate picture of the nation's epidemic and, in doing so, undermines the national effort to win the battle against HIV/AIDS," the letter says.
A spokesperson for the CDC said that data that does not include names is unreliable because there could be a duplication of patients.