Do patients have an obligation to disclose an active disease (e.g., HIV) that they may have?
Dr. A.U. Bankaitis: It’s important to know that confidentiality of HIV testing is paramount, not only to ensure patient sensitive information remains private, but that you as a healthcare practitioner are abiding by established laws. There are different laws for different states, so I'm going to use Florida as an example. Patient test results in Florida cannot be revealed to anyone other than the patient, the patient's legally authorized representative, the healthcare provider - and that usually means the physician involved in the patient's care as it pertains to HIV status - and to those who have written authorizations.
In Florida, therefore, it is not necessary for a patient or for a physician to necessarily disclose HIV status to you. The bottom line is that it is very important to check with your state laws. I think most people assume that if you are HIV positive, you have to legally disclose it, but you do not have to disclose it. The reason they don't have to, is because healthcare professionals should be practicing in a manner that minimizes the spread of disease, and assume as if every patient has a potentially infectious disease.
This Ask the Expert was taken from the text course HIV/AIDS Overview: Catalyst for Change in Infection Control - read the full course here.