Scroll To Top

Groups say New
York health department violates HIV privacy laws

Groups say New
York health department violates HIV privacy laws

Groups send letter demanding a halt to collection of HIV patient data

Several AIDS groups in New York State are demanding that the state health department stop what they say is the illegal collection of medical information from HIV-positive state residents. The HIV Law Project, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union, and South Brooklyn Legal Services presented the demand in a letter sent to the New York Department of Health.

The letter says that since the health department issued a warning in early 2005 about what it believed to be an HIV "superbug" that rapidly progressed to an AIDS diagnoses--which turned out to be a false alarm--it has repeatedly overstepped its authority by requiring reporting of patient data regarding HIV care and treatment. The department claims emergency circumstances necessitate the collection of HIV treatment information and has extended the emergency regulations for the collection of such data several times since April 2005, the latest emergency declaration being issued on April 18. But the advocacy groups say the department is violating state laws that protect medical privacy.

The letter demands that the health department adhere to state privacy laws and stop collecting patient data. If the department continues to collect such information, the groups will file a lawsuit to stop it, the letter states.

"The state clearly has a responsibility to protect against the spread of HIV, but that doesn't put it above the law," Cynthia Knox, deputy executive director of the HIV Law Project, says in a press statement. "The department of health has used the false threat of an emergency to undercut laws that were put in place to protect medical privacy and allow people to make informed decisions about their treatment."

"The department is playing fast and loose with the law to illegally collect medical information and keep people in the dark about their medical treatment," Elisabeth Benjamin of the New York Civil Liberties Union says in a release. "HIV is still a very scary disease. People deserve education and counseling to help them cope with such a life changing diagnosis."

A copy of the letter sent to the health department is available online at or (The Advocate)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff