Electronic Linkage Most Accurate in Recording AIDS Deaths

HIV/AIDS Reporting System project finds many previously unreported deaths among D.C. residents with AIDS

TUESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- An electronic record linkage found that a large number of deaths in people with AIDS who lived in or received their diagnosis in Washington, D.C. had not previously been reported to the D.C. HIV/AIDS Reporting System (HARS), according to research published in the June 13 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Titilola Jolaosho, of the District of Columbia Department of Health, and colleagues report on a project in which HARS was linked to the D.C. Vital Records Division's electronic death certificate file and the Social Security Administrations Death Master File (SSDMF) to identify all deaths in 2000-2005 among residents of the District of Columbia with AIDS and those diagnosed there.

The investigation found that 2,460 deaths had occurred during this period among people with AIDS, and of these, 54 percent had not been previously reported to HARS. This suggests that electronic record linkage is vital for thorough assessment of deaths in people with HIV/AIDS and accurate estimation of disease prevalence, the author of an accompanying editorial notes.

"Electronic linkage of the HIV/AIDS case registry with a state's death-certificate registry and with a national death registry such as SSDMF is a more efficient and thorough method to ascertain deaths among persons with HIV/AIDS than manual linkage limited to in-state death certificates that mention HIV. Improved death ascertainment can enable more accurate estimates of HIV/AIDS prevalence and a more effective allocation of HIV prevention and treatment resources," the editorial states.

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