With human immunodeficiency virus prevalence increasing, we have a pandemic on our hands that beckons us with decision-making to alter the way we approach public health. On a community level, we are faced with the battle between the right to privacy and the right to information (Vorster, 2003). Although there is a thin line between protecting public health and protecting privacy, HIV disclosure should remain private and not be forced. Laws help to guide moral behavior and should guide the infected individual. They should also be set up to protect the un-infected public, but do so without infringing upon privacy and autonomy.
The history of HIV disclosure has a rocky past, as the discovery ...view middle of the document...
All protected health information has its limits at the state and local level with this method of reporting (Moayery, 2001).
Name reporting advocates argue that reporting names assures that patients with HIV and AIDS will receive better counseling and education. They mention that those that are responsible for surveillance could better execute their tasks and partners could be notified. Another argument is that patients will receive notification when new therapeutic agents became available. All aspects of reporting an infectious disease applied to the concept of HIV serostatus with the argument of promoting name reporting in a medical and public health setting. “But crucial as the respect for medical confidentiality is, it has never been viewed as an absolute (UNAIDS, 2000).” Working in the health field, there are limitations as to how private a health record is. Sharing information in passing may never be a privacy violation if the patient does not find out.
The opponents for a reporting system for HIV serostatus are advocates of people living with HIV infection, gay organizations, and some public health officials. Public sharing of HIV status would make people less willing to come forth and receive testing for the virus. As this is the antithesis of what public health is all about, the Global Programme on AIDS released a report discussing the fate of HIV name reporting assuring that it would never reach the national level (UNAIDS, 2000). There is paranoia associated with protected health information stored at a state level. Many people that have knowledge of name based reporting share the fear of that information being leaked into the public. Since the commencement of name-based reporting of HIV/AIDS, there has been one situation where a list of names was leaked to the public (Moayery, 2001). In my opinion, one leak is one too many.
In other countries, name registries exist for the sole purpose of promoting public health surveillance. There are only a couple of provinces in Canada that do not use name reporting in tracking the incidence and prevalence of this disease. Other countries in Europe have mixed opinions. The Europe Centre for Epidemiological Monitoring of AIDS stated that countries with a reporting system should adhere to the policy and countries that do not yet have a system should develop one. They emphasize that confidentiality must be ensured, as well as the elimination of the duplication of reports. They also feel that HIV reports should be linkable with AIDS reports (UNAIDS, 2000). The ideas promoted by countries that support a name reporting system are not well adopted by other countries for reasons that uniquely exist.
Thailand is a good example of how reporting names can go wrong. Upon the discovery of HIV/AIDS, the country immediately developed a public registry of patients with an infectious disease so that patients could receive education and follow-up. Because they lacked similar privacy policies on a national level,...