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HIV Testing Policy

HIV Reporting in Oregon

Since 1995, Oregonians living with HIV infection have experienced remarkable improvements in health due to access to highly effective HIV medication. The result has been a dramatic decrease in deaths due to AIDS and a similar decrease in AIDS cases. One consequence of these tremendous advances is that AIDS case reporting no longer accurately reflects the impact of the epidemic. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control, the Surgeon General, and many community partners advocated expanding reporting to include persons with HIV infection. In response to these recommendations, DHS Health Services undertook an extensive, four-year process of developing an HIV reporting system.

In October 2001, HIV reporting became mandatory in Oregon

The key components of the system are:

  • Anonymous testing option that will continue to be available through all publicly funded HIV Counseling and Testing sites.
  • Laboratories will report all positive HIV test results with the patient's name (this does not include those who test anonymously) to the Oregon Health Division via a secure, confidential mechanism.
  • The Oregon Health Division will contact the provider who ordered the HIV test and obtain information needed to complete the HIV/AIDS case report form. (This is identical to the process currently in place for AIDS case reporting).
  • The reporting provider will be asked to assure that the patient will be informed of the HIV care and prevention resources available in the community, and the medical care will conform to published DHHS HIV Treatment Guidelines.
  • Once the case report is completed and the referral assurances are given, the patient's name will be converted to a Unique Identifier Code, and the name erased permanently from the database. All paper copies of the lab results and case information will be destroyed. In no instance will a person's name be held at the Oregon Health Division for more than 90 days.

DHS Health Services is monitoring the impact of the changes in reporting on HIV testing, and will work with the community to increase access to HIV testing. All breaches of confidentiality in the public health HIV reporting and services programs will be reported to the DHS Health Services along with the outcomes of these events. Finally, DHS Health Services will work with community partners to strengthen current medical privacy laws and the consequences for breaches of confidentiality. DHS Health Services believes that this system represents public health “best practice” and will result in improved understanding of the HIV epidemic allowing more cost-effective use of the state's HIV prevention resources. It will not increase the risk of loss of privacy. Finally, this system is specifically designed to encourage person with HIV to enter care early in the disease in order to take best advantage of HIV medications.

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