Does Massachusetts Have Reporting Laws That Require Hiv Or Aids Diagnoses To Be Reported To The Department Of Public Health
Yes. All states require that certain health conditions be reported to public health authorities in order to track epidemiological trends and develop effective prevention strategies. Massachusetts requires that licensed health care providers and health care facilities licensed by the Department of Public Health report HIV and AIDS cases by name to the Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program. AIDS cases have been reportable by name since 1983. In 1999 HIV cases became reportable using a unique identifier code. Due to funding conditions by the federal government, however, Massachusetts was forced to require HIV reporting by name beginning January 1, 2007.
The Department of Public Health has strong security measures in place to prevent dissemination of HIV/AIDS reporting data. In addition, state regulations prohibit names from being shared with anyone else, including state or federal government entities .
Background On Hiv Criminalization In Us
The following resources provide a broad overview of HIV criminalization in the United States. Specifically, these resources address the science of HIV, provide background literature on the history and practices of HIV criminalization, and the current status of HIV criminalization laws and statutes in the United States.
Helpfulness Of Information Sources
The information sources rated as most helpful were HIV support groups, ASOs, and case managers. As shown in Table 2, mean helpfulness ratings were positively correlated with how frequently an information source was accessed , with the exception of the Internet, which was rated as more helpful than some more frequently accessed information sources. The sources of information rated as least helpful were newspapers and magazines, television, and radio. Participants were generally satisfied with the information they received: no source received a mean rating below 2.0 .
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Do Health Care Professionals Ever Have An Obligation To Warn A Third Party About A Clients Hiv Status
It is the AIDS Law Projects view that there is no clear justification for such a breach of confidentiality under Massachusetts law, even if a counselor or physician learns that a client is engaging in unsafe sex or other risky behavior without having disclosed his or her HIV-positive status to a partner. Providers and consumers alike, however, should be aware that the case law in this area is still developing and remains unresolved. For a legal opinion on how to handle a specific situation, consult with a supervisor or lawyer.
What Do The Courts Say About Minors And Informed Consent
In addition to the provisions of Chapter 112, Section 12F, courts have held that minors can provide informed consent for medical treatment if they are sufficiently intelligent and mature to understand the risks and benefits of treatment, regardless of financial independence or living situation. This is known as the mature minor rule.
Courts will typically assess the minors age, experience, education, training, judgment, conduct and demeanor to assess whether under a particular circumstance the minor has the ability to appreciate the nature and consequences of treatment.
Courts will give particular weight to how close the person is to majority , the benefits of the treatment or test , and the complexity of the treatment or test.
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Disclosure To State And Federal Governments
When you test positive for HIV, your doctor, clinic, or testing site is legally required to report the result to your stateâs health department. Public health officials in your state record this information to keep track of local HIV rates.
Why does your state health department need to know you have HIV? Your state can qualify for federal government money to support health programs and services for people with HIV. This is based on how many people living there have tested positive for the virus.
Your state health department removes all information that identifies you from this report. It sends it to the CDC, the national government agency that keeps track of health trends. The CDC doesnât share this information with anyone: not insurance companies, employers, nor any other agency or person.
Private test results. In 31 states, certain blood testing sites are allowed by law to screen you for HIV without asking your name or any personal information. Ask any clinic, blood testing site, or service if they offer anonymous HIV tests before you give anyone your name or personal information.
How Do Courts Determine Whether There Has Been A Violation Of This General Privacy Law
As an initial matter, in order to be protected by this law, a person must have a privacy right in particular information. Courts have ruled that a person has a privacy right in HIV infection status because:
- HIV is personal medical information and
- HIV is associated with significant social stigma and
Simply having a privacy right in certain personal information, however, does not mean that every disclosure is a violation of the law.
In analyzing whether there has been a violation of the statute, courts will determine whether there is any legitimatecountervailing reason for the disclosure. In other words, a court will balance privacy rights versus other reasons that a defendant articulates as to why a disclosure was necessary in spite of the infringement upon privacy.
For example, if an employee reveals his or her HIV status to a supervisor, the supervisor may only reveal that information to others for a necessary business reason. It may be considered a legitimate business reason to discuss the employees HIV status with other management personnel in connection with making adjustments to a persons job duties as a reasonable accommodation. It would not, however, be a legitimate business reason to tell the employees co-workers or non-essential management personnel.
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Am I Required To Tell Partners If I Am Hiv Positive
Telling sexual partners about your HIV status can be extremely uncomfortable. But it is extremely important to inform all sexual partners of your HIV status, even if you are using protection such as condoms. HIV is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact so you should notify any sexual partners who may have been exposed.
Some states do allow for legal action to be taken against a person who do not adhere to HIV status disclosure requirements and pass on the virus to a partner. While some of this legislation is in the works to be changed, 35 states have active legislation that criminalizes HIV exposure. These are typically only enforced if a person knowingly exposes another to HIV. However, failing to notify partners promptly could potentially get you into legal trouble. This resources has some helpful information about talking to a partner.
Now, what if you are taking antiretroviral drugs and are undetectable? The answer is that you should still disclose this information as legally in most states the viral load is not considered. Ultimately, honesty is always important in any relationship, so being open about your status is something you should communicate to a partner.
Can Minors Give Informed Consent
Under Massachusetts law, minors are generally considered to lack the legal capacity to consent to medical treatment. However, given the importance of making HIV testing available to adolescents, there are two sources of law that authorize a minor to consent to medical treatment or testing, such as an HIV test, without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.
Both lawmakers and the courts have acknowledged the importance of minors being able to make independent decisions about their health care in certain circumstances.
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A Brief Introduction To Hiv
The stigma of having Human Immunodeficiency Virus , a precursor to AIDS, often causes HIV-positive individuals to hide their diagnoses because of fear or embarrassment.
The vilification of HIV-positive individuals has also led to sexually active people exhibiting the equivalent of the ostrich sticking its head into the sand, thinking that if they avoid HIV testing, what they dont know cant hurt them. This fuzzy thinking is dangerous.
On the contrary, whether you or your partner has an HIV-positive diagnosis, learning the truth about HIV might save a persons life and protect their sexual partners, too.
HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that harms your immune system by damaging your cells, thus making you more susceptible to contracting severe illnesses such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and cancer.
HIV symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Vaginal infections
To catch an HIV infection in its early phases, you must undergo STD testing regularly. While there is no cure for HIV, available treatments can alleviate symptoms and reduce HIV levels within the body.
Even though HIV-positive individuals remain contagious throughout their lives, they can still enjoy happy, relatively healthy, and normal lives while managing their condition.
With early detection services such as Rapid STD Testing, HIV-positive individuals and their partners are one step closer to life-preserving treatment.
Examples Of Hiv Status Disclosure Laws By State
HIV disclosure laws vary by state, as do the punishments. In some states, HIV-positive individuals can face up to 20 years in prison for engaging in sexual acts without informing their partners, even if they do not know that they are HIV-positive and their partners do not contract the disease. Below, we list the legal penalties in some states as examples:
1. Alabama: Class C misdemeanor for knowingly exposing an individual to HIV
2. Alaska: Felony for exposing an individual to HIV
3. Arkansas: Class A felony for failing to disclose HIV status to sexual partner, doctor, or dentist
4. California: Felony for knowingly donating infected tissue, bodily fluids, or organs while HIV-positive for failing to disclose HIV status with intent to infect
5. Colorado: Class 5/6 felony for engaging in prostitution while HIV-positive
6. Florida: Third-degree felony for knowingly donating infected tissue, blood, or organs without revealing HIV status or for engaging in sexual intercourse without receiving informed consent
7. Georgia: If one has HIV, a felony for sharing needles, engaging in prostitution, and donating bodily fluids, tissues, or organs for engaging in sexual intercourse without receiving informed consent for spitting on a police officer or using bodily fluids while assaulting a police officer with intent to infect
8. Idaho: Felony for knowingly donating infected bodily fluid, organs, or tissue if HIV-positive
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Hiv And Std Criminalization Laws 2021
Criminalize or Control Behaviors Through HIV-Specific Statutes and Regulations
Criminalize or Control Behaviors Through STD/Communicable/Infectious Diseases Specific Statutes
Sentence Enhancement Statutes
None/General Criminal Statutes
Criminalization of potential HIV exposure is largely a matter of state law, with some Federal legislation addressing criminalization in discrete areas, such as blood donation and prostitution. These laws vary as to what behaviors are criminalized or what behaviors result in additional penalties. Several states criminalize one or more behaviors that pose a low or negligible risk for HIV transmission.
In 12 states, laws require people with HIV who are aware of their status to disclose their status to sex partners, and 4 states require disclosure to needle-sharing partners.
The maximum sentence length for violating an HIV-specific statute is also a matter of state law. Some states have a maximum sentence length up to life in prison, while others have maximum sentence lengths that are less than 10 years. However, only 9 states have laws that account for HIV prevention measures that reduce transmission risk, such as condom use, and antiretroviral therapy .
Why Are Hiv Disclosure Laws Important
HIV disclosure laws protect the human right of informed consent. When sharing your body sexually with another, you deserve to know if you are putting yourself at risk of STD transmissions.
Not only do HIV disclosure laws protect your right to choose whether or not to engage in sex with an infected individual, but they also aid the United States Department of Health and Human Services efforts towards mitigating the spread of HIV.
By remaining informed of your risks, you might be less inclined to engage in unprotected sex and thus less likely to contract HIV. If you do choose to engage in a relationship with an HIV-positive person, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offersresource information for partners of those with HIV.
Be forewarned thatdifferent U.S. states have different HIV disclosure laws with various penalties, ranging from paying fines to incarceration.
Currently, the law does not make exceptions for individuals who are unaware that they are HIV-positive. Whether you accidentally infect someone or intentionally engage in what some people consider biological terrorism, the law could prosecute you the same way.
To best avoid a court case, you should undergo frequent STD testing, especially after starting a relationship with each new partner.
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Does Hiv Disqualify You From The Military
The military has always had several medical regulations in place which can disqualify applicants from joining. Some of these include severe allergies, asthma, hearing and vision issues, and chronic joint diseases. In the past, people with HIV have not been allowed to join the military.
As of July 2021, people with HIV are still not allowed to enlist in the military however, if you contract HIV while enlisted, you can remain in the service. The military offers some health care services for active duty servicemen that extend to HIV treatment. HIV privacy laws are more limited within the military as all active members are required to be tested every 2 years for HIV, and the results could be used to determine if the member is still fit for duty.
However, there is much action being taken to remove this discrimination and allow servicemembers who are HIV+ to remain in active duty. Most recently a lawsuit was filed against the US Airforce after two members were dismissed due to their HIV status. The results from this case are likely to influence future claims regarding HIV status disclosure.
Violence As A Result Of Hiv Status Disclosure
A complex set of social and cultural factors influence every HIV positive persons decision about how, when and with whom to disclose. For people experiencing domestic violence, the stakes are high. Disclosure may escalate serious verbal threats to physical violence or may increase the severity of preexisting abuse . Other outcomes that may put the survivor in danger include threats of harm or outing to children or family or job/social network, loss of housing, restricting medications and even criminalization in some states. These things put the survivors health in jeopardy, and also make leaving an abusive relationship more difficult. Partner notification policies must note the safety risks for survivors of domestic violence.
There are no federal laws mandating disclosure of HIV status, which means that laws about HIV disclosure are left up to each state to decide. Many states and some cities have partner-notification lawsmeaning that, there may be a legal duty to disclose HIV status to partners, and where non-disclosure is a crime. The HIV positive persons name is not given- that remains confidential . Most states also require domestic violence risk screening prior to disclosure. However, there are many anonymous disclosure options through local health departments, websites, and doctors.
Trauma and intimate partner violence have negative health consequences on survivors with HIV. In fact, studies indicate that women living with HIV who have experienced IPV:
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Hiv Confidentiality Laws By State: What To Know
HIV is a lifelong condition, but treatments and strategies can prevent the virus from transmitting and the infection from progressing into AIDS.
This article discusses the different types of laws relating to HIV in the U.S. and outlines the many state-specific laws surrounding the virus.
For more in-depth information and resources on HIV and AIDS, visit our dedicated hub.
When the HIV epidemic began in the United States in the 80s, many states put in place laws designed to discourage behaviors that may expose another person to HIV. These laws could remove a persons right to privacy about their medical condition and even criminalize someone with HIV for engaging in behaviors that could put another person at risk for contracting the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , many of the laws came into effect when the medical community knew very little about HIV , which some laws reflect. Laws may criminalize or punish acts that the medical community now understands do not cause transmission, such as spitting or biting a person.
Some laws have also not changed accordingly since antiretroviral therapy became more prevalent. If ART can suppress the viral load sufficiently, a person has effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sexual acts.
While some states have adapted to new understanding and changed their laws based on new information, the CDC confirms that some states still have outdated laws based on the current understanding of HIV.
What Laws In Massachusetts Govern Informed Consent For Hiv Testing
In 2012, Massachusetts changed the HIV testing part of the law to require only verbal informed consent. However, a physician, health care provider, or health care facility may not do any of the following without first obtaining a persons informed consent:
- Reveal to third parties that a person took an HIV test or
- Disclose to third parties the results of a persons HIV test.
It is important to keep in mind that this law only prohibits the disclosure of HIV status by health care providers.
A competent adult has the right to decide whether he or she wishes to undergo any medical treatment or testing. Without informed consent, the provision of medical treatment is considered to be a battery, a legal claim based upon nonconsensual physical contact with or intrusion upon a persons body.
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What Type Of Consent Is Considered Sufficient
Consent to an HIV test only needs to be done orally, but disclosure that a person took an HIV test or the results of an HIV test requires written informed consent and must be HIV-specific, not general.
A general release to a health care provider authorizing the disclosure of medical records and information is insufficient. The release must specifically authorize the disclosure of HIV test results and must state the purpose for which the information is being requested.