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Feb 27, 2006

Not sure which forum to ask this. It's not a medical issue so I am posing it here.

I found out through an ins. phys. that I am HIV pos. Went to a clinic in the next county in New York State for medical care to try to maintain anonymity. I was told that my name was automatically released to the state. Has it been released to my county of origin as well? I was also told that to use CNAP (contact notification assistance program) services I must call my county of origin and tell them my name, they would have the contacts notified and told to report to the county health offices and then informed they might have been exposed. Is this the only way my I can have my contacts informed anonymously? Must I reveal my identity? Isn't there a more truly anonymous way to inform contacts that they may have been exposed? I have family members and close aquatances that work for the local county health dept, should my status be revealed somehow it could seriously jeopardize my career. I know I have a moral obligation to somehow have my contacts informed.

Any suggestions? I apologize if this is the wrong forum to ask about this.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Not the wrong forum at all. YOu live in a state that is quite aggressive about contact notification. Here are some of the facts:

New York public health officials who make contact with anyone you name will not use your name. You remain anonymous. Using this program is the only alternative to contacting your partners yourself.

Only the people directly involved in the contact notification program have access to your name. No one else with any other job in public health has that access. The safeguards that New York State has put into this program are considerable. I understand your anxiety about protecting your confidentiality. Believe me, New York officials want this program to work, and they have written safeguards into it so that people will indeed use it. I encourage you to contact someone in the CNAP program to ask these questions. A person inside the program could give you more specific answer than I can.

There are two ways to view this step: as a possible risk to your confidentiality, which obviously you have thought about a great deal, is one. The other is that you could view it as a valuable, self-protective tool that New York has given you so that someone else who may not know about his/her infection can be tested and, if necessary, begin treatment. It's potentially life-saving.

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