State Successfully Implements HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Law

Health Commissioner Lauds Security and Confidentiality of Reported Information

Albany, April 26, 2002 - New York State has successfully implemented the HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Law, taking extraordinary care to design a secure system that provides key data to better track the HIV epidemic in New York and ensures the confidentiality of all reported information, State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., said today.

"Because of Governor Pataki's leadership in signing legislation making HIV infection a reportable condition, and making it easier to notify identified partners, we now have access to more and better information to help us determine the extent of HIV infection among New Yorkers and reach out to those who may have been exposed," Dr. Novello said. "We have painstakingly addressed the issues of security and confidentiality, to develop a system that both protects reported information and demonstrates the huge impact of HIV/AIDS on our State."

Prior to the change in the law which was effective on June 1, 2000, only diagnosed cases of AIDS were reportable to the State Health Department. Due to the length of time between initial infection with HIV and the development of AIDS, frequently more than ten years, data limited to diagnosed AIDS cases fail to provide the State with an accurate picture of the current incidence of HIV/AIDS. In addition, while the provision of partner information remains voluntary, State and local public health staff are now better able to respond to information from individuals who need assistance in notifying partners, which increases the likelihood that persons who may have been exposed to HIV can be advised to seek HIV testing, and get treatment if they are infected.

Between June 1, 2000 and December 31, 2000 a total of 16,866 HIV tests and AIDS cases were reported by laboratories and medical providers, confirmed by State surveillance staff. Of the 16,866 cases reported, 2,817 (17%) were initial HIV diagnoses, 9,036 (53%) were cases of initial HIV illness and 5,013 (30%) were initial AIDS diagnoses. A total of 12,144 cases, or 72 percent, were New York City residents, while 4,722 cases (28%) were from counties outside of New York City.

The addition of HIV reporting tripled the number of cases that would have been reported under the previous AIDS case reporting system. Along with allowing health officials to more accurately determine the magnitude of HIV infection and identify populations at risk-providing better information to meet HIV prevention and care needs-successful implementation of the new system will assist the State in receiving future federal funding.

Dr. Novello said, "In 2005, the basis for the formula used to award federal Ryan White CARE Act funds to the states is expected to change from AIDS cases to HIV cases. The HIV reporting system allows us to document the full extent of HIV/AIDS in our state, and to access additional federal dollars to support New York's comprehensive continuum of services."

Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, who authored the HIV reporting and partner notification law in the Assembly, said, "The success of the program's initial implementation under Governor Pataki and Commissioner Novello is very exciting. It demonstrates that traditional public health measures such as mandatory reporting and partner notification, which have been used for decades to combat transmissible diseases such as syphilis and tuberculosis, have the potential to save thousands of lives each year when applied to HIV and AIDS. Identification, treatment and follow-up are the keys to good public health policy."

Of the 3,564 Medical Provider Reports of HIV and AIDS submitted between June 1 and December 31, 2000, 3,230 (91%) were newly diagnosed infections or cases prioritized for voluntary partner notification assistance. In total, 1,383 partners of HIV infected persons were notified or are in the process of being notified of their possible exposure to HIV. This number of documented partner notifications is more than four times greater than the number of partner notifications documented in 1998, prior to implementation of the new law.

Senator Guy Velella, who sponsored the legislation in the State Senate, said, "Some laws make all the difference. The 1,383 individuals who were notified of possible exposure to HIV is not just a number. That figure represents our neighbors, friends and family members. This law is saving lives."

While this program is in the early stages of data gathering and review, the characterization of newly diagnosed HIV cases appears to differ from that of AIDS cases, providing more precise information to meet the HIV prevention and care needs of infected persons in New York State. Preliminary findings indicate that among newly diagnosed HIV cases, there is a greater proportion of females, younger persons, and African Americans, than among AIDS cases.

With the implementation phase of the HIV reporting and partner notification law successfully completed, the New York State Department of Health will routinely issue semi-annual data reports.

4/26/02-38 OPA