Health Department Releases HIV Regulations for Public Comment - New York State Department of Health
Key provisions of the HIV Reporting/Partner Notification Regulations
How will HIV-reporting occur?
- Clinical laboratories, physicians, and other diagnostic health care providers will report to health officials the identity of any person who receives an initial diagnosis of:
- HIV infection: positive HIV antibody test;
- HIV-related illness: positive viral load test, or CD4 count under 500
- AIDS: clinical diagnosis or CD4 count under 200 (current reporting criteria)
- Reports by physicians will include the name and address of the infected individual, demographic and risk information, and the names of any potentially exposed contacts known to the physician or provided by the patient.
How will confidentiality of this information be protected?
- All information obtained by the state or local health department under this law shall be strictly confidential and used only for epidemiological and partner notification purposes. The information will be maintained in a highly confidential and secure manner, under the provisions of the State's HIV Confidentiality Law, similar to the security protocols that have successfully protected the confidentiality of AIDS case data since 1983. This system of confidentiality has securely protected AIDS data in New York for over 15 years.
How will the names of contacts be obtained?
- Physicians and other health providers will be required to counsel HIV-infected persons about the importance of notifying partners who may have been exposed to the virus through sexual contact or needle-sharing. If the patient provides names of exposed persons, the physician will report those names to the health department.
- The physician also will confer with the patient on the best method of notifying exposed contacts that they have named.
- if the patient prefers to notify contacts personally the physician will verify that notification has occurred;
- the physician will notify the exposed partners (alone or with the patient); or
- the contacts will be notified confidentially by a trained public health counselor through the HIV Partner Notification Program conducted by State and local health departments.
What if an HIV-infected person refuses to provide names of contacts?
- There is no civil or criminal penalty for an HIV-infected person who refuses to provide the names of sexual or needle-sharing contacts who may have been exposed to the virus.
However, if a physician independently knows the identity of a potentially exposed partner (e.g. spouse) the physician must notify that person or refer the name to the HIV Partner Notification Program.
What if there is a risk of domestic violence if a partner is notified?
- The physician will ask questions to determine if there is a risk of domestic violence, and if so the physician will indicate this on the reporting form. When a risk of domestic violence is identified, notification is deferred unless, in the professional judgment of health officials, reasonable arrangements for patient safety have been made.
How does the Partner Notification Program Work?
- The State Health Department will forward the names of exposed partners to appropriate Partner Notification programs in local health departments or State regional health department offices. A partner notification staff member may contact the HIV-infected individual confidentially to solicit or verify the names of partners, obtain information on how to contact them, and ensure that domestic violence concerns have been addressed.
- all notifications are done in person by a trained health counselor;
- the identity of the HIV-infected person who exposed them is never disclosed;
- the contact is encouraged to obtain an HIV antibody test to learn if they are infected;
- priority will be given to notifying spouses and contacts of persons who are newly diagnosed with HIV infection.
Can people still get HIV testing at anonymous sites?
- The option of anonymous HIV antibody testing will be retained at State and New York City operated sites. Results of anonymous tests are not transmitted to the Department of Health. However, if an HIV-infected person enters into medical care and is diagnosed as having HIV-infection the physician is required to report their identity to health officials.
What State funding is available to implement the law?
- The 1999/00 Executive Budget includes $4.6 million to implement the HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Law.
The HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Regulations will be published on March 17, 1999, in the New York State Register for a 45 day comment period before taking effect.