Michigan: Ingham County Health Department Amends HIV Document
August 28, 2007
Some AIDS advocates say Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) officials have not done enough to remove the legal uncertainties around a document every person who tests HIV-positive is asked to sign.
The story first came to light when an HIV-positive person told Between the Lines, a Michigan newspaper for gays and lesbians, that ICHD demanded a signature on a "contract." That form stated that the patient would, within four weeks, inform everyone with whom they had ever had sex or shared an injection needle about the newly diagnosed infection. It also required that the patient disclose his or her HIV status before all future sexual or needle-sharing encounters. Recently re-titled by ICHD, the document is now called "Legal Requirement for Partner Notification" but has the same stipulations.
AIDS advocates question the necessity of the document. State law requires people who test HIV-positive to inform current and future sex partners about their serostatus, but it does not require a signature or impose a deadline.
"Why not just do your post-test counseling?" asked Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union-Michigan. "You could give people a written statement to take with them."
"What I think it shows most disturbingly is a lack of understanding about the need for confidentiality," said Todd Heywood, the Between the Lines reporter the HIV patient first contacted about ICHD's document.
ICHD officials denied that people who test HIV-positive are required to sign the document. Officials said it is used to verify that the newly HIV-positive patient is aware of state law, which ICHD interprets as including disclosure to past and present partners. However, ICHD officials said they would meet with local support groups and stakeholders to address concerns about the form.
Lansing State Journal
8.24.2007; Derek Wallbank
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.