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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Confidentiality

MVHS complies with New York State regulations concerning confidentiality of patient medical information. HIV information must have a special consent to be released. HIV information is identified as any information that shows a person:

  • Had HIV-related test (such as a HIV antibody test, PCR test, CD4 test for HIV, viral load test or other test)
  • Has HIV-infection, HIV-related illness or AIDS
  • Has been exposed to HIV
  • Has one of these conditions, including information on the individual’s contacts.

Under what conditions can HIV-related information be disclosed and/or accessed by hospital staff?

Generally, HIV-related information can only be disclosed if the person signs an approved HIV release form. The Department of Health form – HIPAA Compliant Authorization for Release of Medical Information and Confidential HIV Related Information (DOH 2557) – is used for this purpose. This form allows the release of both non-HIV and HIV-related information.

Under what circumstances can HIV-related information be disclosed or accessed by hospital employees without an approved HIV release form?

For medical treatment:

  • Medical professionals working on the treatment team with the person’s existing provider may discuss a patient’s HIV-related information with each other or with their supervisors, but only to give necessary care. A general release is needed to disclose medical information to a provider who is not affiliated with the person’s current medical provider.
  • With a general release, a hospital or healthcare provider may share HIV-related information with a patient’s insurance company if the information is needed to pay for medical care.
  • Medical personnel and certain other supervisory staff may have access to HIV-related information to provide or monitor services if the person is in jail or prison, or is on parole.
  • Disclosure may occur without consent in certain cases of on-the-job exposure to HIV when all criteria for exposure have been met.
  • Parents or guardians of a minor or individuals who are legally authorized to provide consent can be given HIV-related information about the person if it is necessary to provide timely care, unless it would not be in the person’s best interests to disclose the information.

To monitor healthcare and disease prevention:

  • Healthcare facility staff and committees, oversight review organizations or government agencies that are authorized to have access to medical records may be given HIV-related information when it is needed to supervise, monitor or administer a health or social service.
  • Known partners of a HIV-positive person may be notified that they have been exposed to HIV by a physician if he or she follows the required New York State process for notifying the partner as directed in Article 27-F of the Public Health Law, or a public health officer.
  • Public health officials may have access to this information when required by law (such as HIV/AIDS case reporting to monitor disease trends and plan prevention programs).

Other circumstances:

  • Authorized agencies that work with prospective adoptive or foster parents may have access to this information.
  • A judge can issue a special court order that requires release of HIV-related information. HIV-related information cannot be released in response to a subpoena issued by an attorney.

As providers of healthcare, MVHS is required to provide trainings in HIV confidentiality for appropriate staff. All New York State providers of health and human services who are authorized to receive HIV-related information about individuals are required, by Public Health Law, Article 27-F, to maintain policies that regulate the protection of HIV-related information, including the provision of training. Staff members who, in the course of their duties, handle or see such information receive training on their legal obligations with regard to HIV-related information about individuals. The training includes:

  • What constitutes HIV-related information about a person
  • To whom this information may be passed with and without documented permission from the individual
  • To whom it may not be passed at all
  • Special confidentiality considerations with regards to electronic records.