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HIPPA for Aids
Jan 5, 2013

Why is HIPPA so important regarding HIV and Aids than any other health condition?

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

The federal privacy law, HIPAA, and state confidentiality laws exist to protect people's HIV-related information for a variety of important reasons.

First, these laws are born out of a long tradition of respecting privacy of medical information in our legal system. The physician-patient privilege, for example, protects communications between doctors and patients and ensures that doctors cannot generally offer confidential medical information against a patient in a court of law.

The second critical reason why HIV confidentiality laws are so important is because of the pernicious social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Confidentiality laws recognize that people with HIV/AIDS deserve to have their status protected from unconsented-to disclosure given the documented history of prejudice against HIV positive people. From the beginning days of the epidemic in the 1980s, those with HIV/AIDS have faced disturbing levels of discrimination with respect to housing, employment and health care. Societal bias against those with HIV/AIDS has resulted in violence, unfounded hysteria and crippling marginalization. Even in 2013 people living with HIV and AIDS regularly confront ignorance, disrespect and a lack of compassion. Despite the phenomenal, seismic advances we've made in the fight against HIV animus, we still have a long way to go as a society. It is for these reasons that HIPAA and confidentiality statues exist: to protect people's privacy so that they are not subjected to hateful discrimination.

At least 39 states in America have HIV-specific privacy laws or wider privacy protections that explicitly refer to HIV. The other states have more general privacy statutes that people are protected by. For more information about this important topic and a state-by-state survey of HIV confidentiality laws, check out the below link to a comprehensive article by a respected law professor. Thanks for writing.

Legislative Survey of State Confidentiality Laws, with Specific Emphasis on HIV and Immunization



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