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February 13, 1987

Testing for Antibody to HIV: Confidentiality vs Anonymity

Author Affiliations

Arizona Department of Health Services Phoenix

Arizona Department of Health Services Phoenix

JAMA. 1987;257(6):781-782. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390060071021

To the Editor.—  Greenwalt et al1 wrote to the editor recently about screening for antibody to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at alternate sites. In introducing the subject, the authors state that "anonymity is absolutely essential to ensure the successful operation of such alternate sites for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS] antibody screening. Only then can the use of alternate sites be expected to safeguard the blood supply." This statement is not supported by the remainder of the letter, and, in fact, may represent an author's bias toward the scheme they have developed.It may be that the authors are making the mistake of confusing anonymity with confidentiality. Anonymity is not "absolutely essential" to any endeavor in public health, but confidentiality is. (Anonymity is namelessness, while confidentiality is a matter of trust.)In Arizona, all cases of HIV infection (AIDS, AIDS-related complex, or seropositivity to HIV) will soon be reportable