GLAA Calls for Council Hearing on Names Reporting PlansGAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE
OF WASHINGTON, D.C.
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013-5265
January 11, 1999
The Honorable Sandy Allen
Committee on Human Services
Council of the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
I am writing to encourage you to hold a hearing in the immediate future on plans by the Agency for HIV/AIDS that would require doctors to report the names of those testing positive for HIV.
Ron Lewis, director of AHA, publicly announced such plans in a story in the December 18 issue of The Washington Blade.
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) believes, along with virtually every other concerned organization in the gay and lesbian community, that such a move is unwise, unnecessary, and counterproductive. Studies across the country have consistently shown that names reporting systems deter people most at risk from being tested for HIV in the first place because of fears of discrimination they would likely face.
GLAA raised this issue in our questionnaires to candidates for Mayor and Council last year. Mayor Tony Williams voiced strong opposition to a names reporting system. So did Council Chairman Linda Cropp. So did a majority of the D.C. Council.
We are convinced that a unique identifier system, such as is in effect in a number of states already (including Maryland), would serve the legitimate public health needs of the community without compromising confidentiality.
We believe a quick hearing, airing the concerns that we and so many others share, might well deter AHA from embarking on a foolhardy course. If worse comes to worse, emergency legislation may have to be passed by the Council, perhaps as early as at the February meeting, to block the imposition of any names reporting system so that a more reasonable solution can be found.
We hope to hear from you very soon.
cc: Dr. Pat Hawkins, Whitman-Walker Clinic
Ron Lewis, Agency for HIV/AIDS