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HIV-Positive Man Files Lawsuit Alleging Michigan Advocacy Group Disclosed His HIV Status in Company Materials

August 21, 2003

A Wayne County, Mich., HIV-positive man earlier this month filed a lawsuit in Washtenaw Circuit Court against the not-for-profit HIV/AIDS Resource Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., alleging that the organization disclosed his HIV status on company materials, the Detroit News reports. The man, referred to in court documents as "John Doe," worked as a volunteer with the group two years ago, during which time HARC published an annual report that included his picture and a caption stating that he was HIV-positive, according to the man's attorney, Vanessa Fluker. Under Michigan's confidentiality laws, all information related to HIV and AIDS is confidential, including information about whether a person has been tested for HIV, according to the Michigan Advocates Exchange. Kendra Kleber, director of legal services for MAE, said, "It's not a very well-known law," adding, "The stigma is still so bad that I think people are not surprised to learn that they should not be talking about someone else's HIV status." HARC President and CEO Jimena Loveluck said the group "takes confidentiality seriously" and does not release medical information without permission, but she made no comments about the lawsuit, according to the News (Woodards, Detroit News, 8/20).

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