Disclosure of HIV Status To A Sexual Partner
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Do I Have to Disclose My HIV Status?
Disclosure of HIV status is a personal choice and is not required, but in some situations disclosure is mandatory. Many states and some cities have partner-notification laws for patients who have tested positive for HIV. This means that the person who has been diagnosed with HIV is legally obligated to disclose this information with a sex partner or needle sharing partner. In some states, failure to disclose an HIV positive status to a partner is a crime and the person who failed to disclose this information can be charged with a crime.
Some health departments are also required to share this information to known sex partners even if the patient who has tested positive for HIV refused to report it themselves.
Can a Sexual Partner Sue Me If I Do Not Disclose My HIV Status?
HIV-positive people should inform potential sexual or needle-sharing partners of their HIV status. If you have HIV and you do not inform your sexual or needle-sharing partner, she may have grounds to file a lawsuit against you. Even if you do not transmit HIV to your partners, they may sue you for placing them at risk.
If you have HIV some states may charge you with a crime if you fail to disclose this information to a sex partner or needle sharing partner.
Can I Be Criminally Liable If I Do Not Disclose My HIV Status?
In most cases, sharing information about your HIV status is your personal decision and disclosure is not necessary. However, not disclosing your HIV status in a sexual relationship to your sex partner or needle sharing partner may lead to criminal charges. In most states, the law requires that you disclose HIV status information to sex partners if you know that they could be exposed. Penalties for failure to disclose varies from state to state. In many states, you may be charged with a felony for not telling your sexual status to a sex partner before having intimate contact.
In addition, 60 countries have laws set in place that penalize HIV positive individuals who fail to disclose their HIV status to sex partners.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Protect Myself against Liability?
If you have protected sex, it will be more much more difficult for a sexual partner to sue you. Even though having HIV is a personal business, there are laws that protect individuals from being discriminated against because of the HIV virus. However, other laws are also put in place to prevent the spreading of the virus.
Since there are partner-notification laws set in some states, if you know that you are HIV positive, you could face criminal and civil lawsuits from a person who was infected because of your failure to disclose the virus.
Can a Court Order HIV Testing of Individuals?
When HIV or AIDS is an issue in a legal dispute, the judge has the power to order someone who is a party to the lawsuit to undergo an HIV test. If your HIV status is revealed in court, the information you disclose will be made part of the court record (a public document). However, you may have your attorney ask the judge to "seal" the information in the case that would identify you as HIV-positive, thus keep your HIV status private from the record.
Can I Sue Someone for Disclosing My HIV Status without My Consent?
This may be possible. Disclosure without your consent may violate your rights to privacy, HIV confidentiality, and patient health care record confidentiality. There are laws set that prevent any health officials or third party organizations who have information about your HIV status to disclose this information without your consent since a patients medical information is confidential.
However, some health departments require health providers to disclose HIV status of a patient to a sex partner of the infected patient to prevent the spreading of the virus.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Since most cases involving one individual suing another for failing to disclose that he or she had some type of sexual disease involves typical tort liability, an attorney experienced in personal injuries had help you with your claim. Also, if you have to testify in a case where your HIV status might be disclosed on the public record, you may want to retain an attorney to help you with "sealing" the information from getting out to the public.
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Last Modified: 01-30-2015 03:46 PM PST
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