Limits on Confidentiality

Content From: HIV.govUpdated: May 15, 20172 min read


HIV Disclosure Policies and Procedures

If your HIV test is positive, the clinic or other testing site will report the results to your state health department. They do this so that public health officials can monitor what’s happening with the HIV epidemic in your city and state. (It’s important for them to know this, because Federal and state funding for HIV services is often targeted to areas where the epidemic is strongest.)

Your state health department will then remove all of your personal information (name, address, etc.) from your test results and send the information to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC is the Federal agency responsible for tracking national public health trends. CDC does not share this information with anyone else, including insurance companies. For more information, see CDC’s HIV Testing Basics: Privacy.

Many states and some cities have partner-notification laws—meaning that, if you test positive for HIV, you (or your healthcare provider) may be legally obligated to tell your sex or needle-sharing partner(s). In some states, if you are HIV-positive and don’t tell your partner(s), you can be charged with a crime. Some health departments require healthcare providers to report the name of your sex and needle-sharing partner(s) if they know that information–even if you refuse to report that information yourself.

Some states also have laws that require clinic staff to notify a “third party” if they know that person has a significant risk for exposure to HIV from a patient the staff member knows is infected with HIV. This is called “duty to warn.” The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program requires that health departments receiving money from the Ryan White program show “good faith” efforts to notify the marriage partners of a patient with HIV.

Disclosure Policies in Correctional Facilities

Any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In addition, an individual, an organization, or an agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person's identity.

For more information, see EEOC’s The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability.