New Surveillance Law Takes Effect
After more than a year of negotiation and a great deal of concern on the part of HIV/AIDS advocates, regulations governing New York State's new names reporting and partner notification law have been adopted. Implementation of the law began June 1.
Body Positive has worked to keep people informed about the new law since its passage and through the development of the regulations. The law itself is discussed in detail in "What's in a Name?" by Stacy Millman in the January 1999 issue, and the original draft regulations (virtually unchanged in the final version) in "It's the Law! What Is?" in March 1999. In addition, here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- New York's strict HIV confidentiality laws are still in effect. Also, the state has tracked AIDS cases by name since 1985 with no known breaches of confidentiality, according to the New York AIDS Coalition.
- Individuals may still be tested at anonymous testing sites across the state, and their names will not be reported if they test HIV-positive. Once a person enters medical care, however, a confirmatory confidential test will be required and will trigger reporting.
- There is no civil or criminal liability for individuals who refuse to disclose the names of their contacts. The legal requirement is that the medical provider or tester must provide the names of any known spouses or contacts. If the report sent to the Department of Health does not include contact names, or includes misinformation, however, a public health representative may follow up with the physician or the HIV-positive individual.
- Pre- and post-test counseling must include that HIV reporting is required by law and that individuals who test positive will be asked to cooperate by disclosing contact information. Post-test counseling must also include that contacts should be notified to prevent transmission and to enable them to get early testing and healthcare.
- Even if an individual does not cooperate, a doctor or tester must report the name of any known sex or needle-sharing partner, including a spouse or ex-spouse, dating back as far as ten years.
- A screening for the risk of domestic violence must be performed, and if such a risk exists no notification may occur until steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the HIV-positive person. Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, economic, emotional, and/or psychological abuse.
For further information about how the law will be implemented in your area, contact the New York State Department of Health or your local health department.
Back to the July 2000
Issue of Body Positive