HIV – Disclosure, Legal Issues

Decisions about whether to disclose HIV status, to whom, when, where, and how can be difficult and stressful for many people. Some states, including Washington, have laws that require someone living with HIV to disclose their HIV status to certain people, such as sexual partners; however, you will never be obligated to tell others, such as employers. These are difficult, very personal decisions that only you can make. Below are some helpful links for understanding the laws about disclosure, your confidentiality when seeking out healthcare, and an excellent guide to thinking through the why, how, where, and when of disclosure if and when you decide you want to.


Disclosure of HIV-positive status: Towards the development of guidelines, strategies and interventions 

This report from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network provides an excellent overview of what research tells us of the potential benefits and risks of disclosure as well as providing a host of disclosure strategies to consider. See especially the section “HIV Disclosure Strategies” that starts on page 5 of the report.

This AIDS.gov HIV disclosure website is another good starting place.


HIV – Legal Obligations and Rights

State-by-State: HIV Laws from Pro-Publica

State Criminal Statutes on HIV Transmission from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

Civil Rights and Health Information Privacy Rights for people living with HIV from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Ethical Dimensions of HIV – Confidentiality for HIV-patients in Healthcare Settings from UCSF (University of California – San Francisco) HIV Insite