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HIV and AIDS

Confidentiality Issues When Counseling An AIDS/HIV Patient

09/24/1998

Question:

What are some confidentiality issues that arise when counseling an AIDS/HIV patient? What laws are now in effect concerning this issue?

Answer:

Obviously there are many confidentiality issues to bear in mind when counselling someone with HIV/AIDS, but they are not really so different from confidentiality issues that apply to any other patient seeking help from a mental health or healthcare professional. You need to assure the person that the information discussed between you, including the patient's diagnosis, remains confidential unless the patient authorizes its release or the law requires you to release specific information. The laws vary from state to state about who can access information about HIV without a patient's consent. Most states require reporting of a person's name to the local or state health department upon being diagnosed with AIDS, others require reporting of persons simply testing positive for HIV. This is usually done to help with tracking numbers of persons with the disease so that prevention and treatment resources can be appropriately allocated.

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Response by:

Kenneth   Skahan, MD Kenneth Skahan, MD
Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati