New York City’s AIDS case rate is almost triple the U.S. average, according to the city, and HIV is the third leading cause of death for residents ages 35 to 54. So though the idea of a big list of people with one of the world’s most stigmatized diseases is a bit creepy, we can understand why the city would want a robust database to track AIDS/HIV cases. But should we really do it on the cheap?
Trigyn Technologies, Inc., a Mumbai-based outsourcing company with offices in the U.S. and Germany, has won a contract to build the database to track American patients with HIV and AIDS and assess co-morbidity in relation to other conditions such as STDs, tuberculosis and hepititis, as per a new requirement in the state health code. Congratulations, guys!
A tipster wrote in to show us a recruitment pitch for the project, which is seeking a Long Island-based developer to serve as consultant. The recruiter refers to a contract with the The Division of Informatics and Information Technology (DIIT), a division of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
From the listing:
Ultimately this infrastructure will create an ecological model of analysis to support, evaluate and drive comprehensive public health strategies that not only address individual risk factors, but also include broad norms and social and environmental factors.
As the project involves integrating four disparate databases of patient data, our tipster was most concerned about privacy: Even if the data is anonymized, medical records contain loads of identifying information, and identification tends to get easier with cross-referencing. “I’m just concerned about privacy and stigmatization of HIV/AIDS patients – I have no doubt they’ll be able to take this data and identify exactly who has what disease when they combine databases like this.”
It’s cool, we’re sure Trigyn knows all about the importance of privacy and HIPAA, the latter which is mentioned on its website once.
We’ve reached out to DOHMH for more information. UPDATE, 5:16 p.m.: DOHMH sent a statement: “The Health Department takes every precaution to protect the identity of all HIV positive New Yorkers, in accordance with State law. All HIV-related information is kept in highly secure databases using protocols for confidentiality and data security that are that are reviewed regularly by the New York State Department of Health.”
UPDATE, 5/31: Trigyn writes in to say that only U.S. workers are working on the database. “The resources that work for Trigyn in the US are US Citizens, Permanent US Residents and to a lesser extent, individuals that are otherwise authorized to work in the US,” the company said in an email.