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Disclosure to others without permission
Jun 23, 2011

I was diagnosed HIV+ on July 26, 2010. At that time I was very sick and could not lend my then wife support for my diagnosis. She was afraid she was positive too. Since we didn't have sex for 7 years before my diagnosis there was no chance she was positive. I had two HIV tests three-four months apart both were negative....When I couldn't be there for her she turned to her family (Sisters and Mother) and told them I was positive. I understood she needed support but later came to resent the fact that this most personal health information was disclosed without my permission. Now her family feels that when others, who knew I was sick, ask how I am, they believe that a simple "he's better" is lying and they have said they will be honest and tell them I was diagnosed HIV+. I feel this is not their right and I have told them they do not have my permission to tell ANYONE! What are my rights here?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Most laws regarding disclosure and confidentiality of HIV-related information pertain either to so-called "covered entities," usually governmental or healthcare organizations, or obligations of the person with HIV. Each state has different laws regarding specific situations. I feel your relatives certainly have a moral obligation not to disclose, but the law may or may not be clear. You should check with an attorney in your state to see if any local laws apply. The Center for HIV Law and Policy assembles HIV-related legal information, but for specifics it's best to consult someone where you live.

-David



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