|How to Fill Out Questionaires/Health Forms for + Children
Aug 8, 2012
I am part of an adoption support group for parenting HIV+ children. I know that parents do not have to disclose their child's status if they choose not to. On health forms (for day camps, church nursery, school, sports teams, etc.) I know that we can leave certain blanks empty or write N/A. What about actual checklists (at an ER for a child just getting quick stitches for example, or any other type of form that asks for a yes or no answer about HIV status)--is it acceptable to lie and check "no"? There is also the question of school forms and such that don't ask about status, but often ask for a list of current medications. Can we say "none" or "N/A"? It would not be hard for someone to discover a child's private HIV status by the medication names. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
| Response from Ms. Douaihy
Thanks for the inquiry. The topics you raise bring into play several different laws, and there is no easy answer. I would therefore strongly advise you to obtain legal advice from a lawyer in your state, and carefully consider the risks and benefits of your choices.
I will start by saying that you are mostly correct with respect to disclosure. Generally speaking, parents do not have a duty to disclose their child's HIV status to the public. There is, however, a generally recognized duty of a patient to reveal her HIV status to her treating physician. Therefore, if your child is admitted to a hospital, say for emergency treatment, I would advise you to disclose your child's status in that instance.
You ask further whether it is acceptable to omit your child's medications on a school form checklist. In that circumstance, you do have a right to privacy. Clearly, there are reasons why it may be medically advisable to tell the institution charged with caring for your child about your child's medications, so I would recommend talking to your child's doctor about when disclosure of prescriptions is medically advisable.
For your edification, I must also advise you of risks (albeit, marginal) for knowingly misrepresenting a child's HIV status to an institution (eg a school, a sleep-away camp). Civil or criminal liability may--in very limited circumstances--befall a parent who knowingly fails to disclose the HIV status of his child IF that child transmits or reasonably exposes another child/person to HIV.
Critically, whenever you disclose your child's HIV status to a school, a hospital or other "covered entity" under the federal privacy rule (HIPAA) or anywhere else pursuant to a written authorization form, that entity is prohibited from re-disclosing the information. The law protects you and your child's rights to confidentiality when you disclose HIV status to a school, and that right is taken seriously.
Good luck. I wish you and your entire support group the very best!
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