Main | Tuesday, March 05, 2013

MICHIGAN: State Health Department Secretly Collecting Names Of HIV+

In what could completely upend all attempts to get at-risk members of the public to be tested for HIV, the Michigan Department of Community Health has been accused of storing the identities of HIV+ residents for possible use in criminal prosecutions for exposing others to the virus.  Todd Heywood reports at American Independent:
While MDCH claims the database does not contain personally identifiable information, a recent study, published last month in the University of California Press’ journal Social Problems, has found that some Michigan local health departments with access to the database are using it to pursue both civil actions – known as “health threat to others” actions – and criminal prosecutions against people living with HIV.

The study, authored by University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate Trevor Hoppe, found that the database has been used specifically to identify and target sexual or needle-sharing partners of newly diagnosed HIV-positive persons where the infected person may not have disclosed his or her status to partners; women who are HIV-positive and have become pregnant; and HIV-positive persons who have been diagnosed with other sexually transmitted infections.
Heywood notes that at least 800 state employees have access to at least part of the "confidential" HIV testing data.

RELATED: Last month a federal advisory panel passed a resolution calling on Washington to help states with efforts to decriminalize the transmission of HIV.  Thirty-two states presently have such laws. In some cases, HIV+ people have been convicted and imprisoned even though safer sex practices were adhered to and no transmission occurred.

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