SAN FRANCISCO — California joined most of the nation’s other states Monday in reporting new cases of HIV infection, an effort officials hope will help identify which demographic groups are suffering most from the virus.
California’s system will differ from the 33 states that track HIV by reporting patients’ names. Instead, the system is similar to coding methods used in Maryland, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Vermont and Puerto Rico.
California’s system, authorized by the Legislature in 2000, requires doctors and labs to report the last four digits of the patient’s Social Security number, their gender and date of birth. That information will be combined with sexual history and ethnicity and added to the statistics compiled by state health officials.
Those tested anonymously at clinics will not be reported until they enter the health care system.
California had been reluctant to track HIV infections because of privacy issues. Until Monday, full-blown AIDS cases were the only numbers reported, and names are used in that tracking.