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Requirements and Benefits of Disclosing to Healthcare Providers

Your healthcare providers (doctors, clinical workers, dentists, etc.) have to know about your HIV status in order to be able to give you the best possible care. It’s also important that healthcare providers know your HIV status so that they don’t prescribe medication for you that may be harmful when taken with your HIV medications.

Some states require you to disclose your HIV-positive status before you receive any healthcare services from a physician or dentist. For this reason, it’s important to discuss the laws in your state about disclosure in medical settings with the healthcare provider who gave you your HIV test results.

Your HIV test result will become part of your medical records so that your doctor or other healthcare providers can give you the best care possible. All medical information, including HIV test results, falls under strict confidentiality laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and cannot be released without your permission.

For more information, see CDC’s Questions and Answers for the General Public: Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Healthcare Settings.

Medical Discrimination

It is against the law for a healthcare provider to refuse to treat you because you have HIV. Both the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discrimination against qualified persons with HIV and other disabilities.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your HIV status, you can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The deadline for filing a complaint is 180 days from the date the discrimination occurred.

For information on how to file a complaint, see OCR’s How to File a Civil Rights Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

I just tested positive for HIV. Will my test results become part of my medical records?

Yes. It is important for your doctor or other healthcare providers to know your HIV status in order to give you the best care. For more information, see CDC’s Questions and Answers for the General Public: Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Healthcare Settings.

How will my privacy be protected?

HIV test results fall under the same strict privacy rules as the rest of your medical information, including those for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Information about your HIV test cannot be released without your permission. If your test shows you are infected with HIV, this information will be reported to the state health department, like other STD results. After all personal information about you (your name, address, etc.) is removed, this information, in turn, is forwarded to the CDC. CDC uses this information to keep track of HIV/AIDS in the United States and to direct funding and resources where they are needed the most. CDC does not share this information with anyone else, including insurance companies. For more information, see CDC’s Questions and Answers for the General Public: Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Healthcare Settings.

Additional Resources

Last revised: 10/12/2010