Plan To Get HIV Names Attacked

Thu. August 14, 2003 12:00 AM by

Atlanta, Georgia - A plan by Georgia health officials to collect the names of people who test positive for HIV is being slammed by AIDS-care workers who say it will discourage people from getting tested.

Georgia is the only state that does not collect names in an effort to better track the progression of the disease. The Georgia Division of Public Health announced Monday it would begin to gather the names. It dismisses charges that the scheme would threaten confidentiality saying only employees of Public Health would have access to the information.

"A significant portion of our community would stay away out of fear,” said Kevin Clark, Chatham County director of Georgia Equality. That concern was voiced by other groups that provide AIDS outreach programs. Mark Douglas, executive director of My Brothaz H.O.M.E., a men’s AIDS outreach group in Savannah, said that he didn’t believe black and Hispanic men would be tested for HIV if their names were collected.

“This is not like cancer or diabetes. There’s a stigma attached” to HIV, said Greg Smith, project manager for AIDS Survival in Atlanta.

But, the state says it needs the information to get federal funding.

Currently, doctors are required to report the names of AIDS cases, but must only submit HIV patients’ demographic data such as age, sex or race to health authorities. Public Health says that leads to confusion and misinformation. The state agency says that it cannot tell when a person with HIV develops full blown AIDS, or if someone with HIV has received a second test for verification.

Georgia, state officials estimate between 8,200 to 15,300 people know they have HIV, and 12,386 people live with AIDS, but they say without the names they do not know how much overlap there might be in the numbers.

©® 2003

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