Michigan: City Defends Release of Private Health Information
August 5, 2009
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has written a letter requesting that Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox independently investigate whether the city acted improperly in a case involving the disclosure of an individual's HIV status.
In May, Lansing police working undercover at the Fenner Nature Center arrested a man on a charge of indecent exposure. Police officials said the man told the arresting officer he was HIV-positive, a detail the officer included in his report.
Later, the online political Web site Michigan Messenger and several groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details on the police operation. The report the police turned over included the man's name and the fact he was HIV-positive.
"Someone should get involved to make sure the police department's actions were proper and, if not make sure it gets corrected," said Alicia Skillman, executive director of the Detroit-based Triangle Foundation. The foundation and the Lansing Association for Human Rights have protested the release of the man's HIV status.
"There's legitimate concern, which frankly I share, which is why I welcome the attorney general's independent investigation," said City Attorney Brig Smith. "I'm confident the attorney general will conclude, as I have concluded, that there was no violation of the law," he said in a reference to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which ensures the privacy of health-related data.
Lansing State Journal
08.04.2009; Susan Vela