CDC Awards $33M Contract to Expand HIV Database

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month tapped Analytical Sciences Inc. to establish a national database to distribute to medical facilities nationwide timely information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.

The CDC awarded ASI a five-year, $33 million contract to build the Prevention Information Network (PIN), which will expand an HIV/AIDS database that Aspen Systems Corp. built and maintained under a $47 million contract that the CDC awarded in 1991. PIN will offer state and local health departments, hospitals and community-based organizations information not only on HIV but also STDs, tuberculosis and, later, other diseases.

"These are all diseases of considerable concern and impact to the American public," said Kenneth Williams, the CDC's project director for PIN. "Once this system is up and running, it will be the most comprehensive information collection and dissemination system within the federal government."

ASI, a small business, will expand on Aspen's original HIV/AIDS database, which consisted of preventive educational material and provider services in communities nationwide, to include databases on resources and services, funding and opportunities, and daily news. PIN's educational database will consist of 600 approved CDC publications, and the resources and services database will include about 19,000 records of state and local organizations that provide AIDS services at health departments, hospitals and community-based organizations.

The funding and opportunities database will contain 500 records at any one time on grants and contracts that public and private groups offer state and local organizations, research institutions and hospitals. These institutions can tap funds that can, among other things, pay for computers, telephones or other equipment to access PIN. In addition, a daily news database will update scientific articles covering HIV, STD and tuberculosis issues.

Williams added that although the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States has leveled off in the past few years, HIV/AIDS cases continue to rise among women and minorities. To help prevent the spread of the disease, Williams said PIN will not only serve high-end users such as hospitals and research institutions but also communities that are technologically underserved and have few resources at their disposal.

To make PIN accessible for those communities, the system will be mostly Internet-based, said Donald A. Holzworth, president and chief executive officer of ASI. "We will be using some of the latest techniques in consolidating multiple databases with a single access forum," he said.

PIN will be housed in new offices in Silver Spring, Md., and will consist of a local-area network made up of 40 to 50 Pentium computers.Jessee Milan, the ASI PIN program manager and a former director of the AIDS office for Philadelphia's Department of Public Health, said the new system will help local communities get the critical information they need to fund health programs. "Grass-roots organizations have been straining to obtain the funding to conduct the services that they provide," he said. "Additional enhancements like computers, fax machines and modems are the extras."

Milan said that because of a lack of information about HIV, STDs and tuberculosis, many community organizations publish booklets to distribute to the public, but the booklets contain the same information that appears in other material available from other organizations. "With this system, community organizations can know what another organization is doing that is relevant to their needs, and they can do it with the click of a mouse," Milan said.

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