Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JMIR Public Health Surveillance Report





Inclusive Pages





Background: The National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for active surveillance programs for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to more accurately measure access to and retention in care across the HIV care continuum for persons living with HIV within their jurisdictions and to identify persons who may need public health services. However, traditional public health surveillance methods face substantial technological and privacy-related barriers to data sharing.

Objective: This study developed a novel data-sharing approach to improve the timeliness and quality of HIV surveillance data in three jurisdictions where persons may often travel across the borders of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Methods: A deterministic algorithm of approximately 1000 lines was developed, including a person-matching system with Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System (eHARS) variables. Person matching was defined in categories (from strongest to weakest): exact, very high, high, medium high, medium, medium low, low, and very low. The algorithm was verified using conventional component testing methods, manual code inspection, and comprehensive output file examination. Results were validated by jurisdictions using internal review processes.

Results: Of 161,343 uploaded eHARS records from District of Columbia (N=49,326), Maryland (N=66,200), and Virginia (N=45,817), a total of 21,472 persons were matched across jurisdictions over various strengths in a matching process totaling 21 minutes and 58 seconds in the privacy device, leaving 139,871 uniquely identified with only one jurisdiction. No records matched as medium low or low. Over 80% of the matches were identified as either exact or very high matches. Three separate validation methods were conducted for this study, and they all found ≥90% accuracy between records matched by this novel method and traditional matching methods.

Conclusions: This study illustrated a novel data-sharing approach that may facilitate timelier and better quality HIV surveillance data for public health action by reducing the effort needed for traditional person-matching reviews without compromising matching accuracy. Future analyses will examine the generalizability of these findings to other applications.


Reproduced with permission of JMIR Public Health Surveillance Reports.

Open Access