An Examination of Hiv/Aids Partner Notification Laws and Policies: the Responsibilities and Limits of the Patient, the Health Care Providers and the Public Health Agencies for Disclosing Information to Partners of Hiv-Infected Individuals

Project: National Science and Technology CouncilNational Science and Technology Council Academic Grants

Project Details

Abstract

Taiwan faces an urgent need to find HIV-infected persons in order to provide drugs to control viral load and prolong their life. Central health authorities has promoted and enforced contact tracing—locate and inform the infected person’s sex and needle-sharing partners who may have been exposed to infection—to increase the number of people seeking testing and counseling for HIV. Article 12 of the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act (The Act) prescribes that “Competent authorities may conduct investigations of the infected and their sources of infection or contacts. When conducting investigations, however, the dignity and privacy of the infected shall not be trespassed”. As to how to carry out investigation without infringing privacy of the infected, there is no clear rules. So that the first line public health officials may face a dilemma when the patients are not willing to notify their partners and refuse public health workers to contact and inform their partners. Partner notification has three distinct meanings, (1) duty to disclose—persons disclose their infection to their partners, (2) duty to warn—health care professionals warn the partners of their infected patients, and (3) contact tracing—public health agencies locate and inform partners who may have been exposed to infection. Partner notification creates a tension between the privacy interests of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their sex and needle-sharing partners’ right to know. Because privacy and knowledge are incompatible interests, lawmakers and policymakers must sometimes choose on interest over the other. In balancing interests in the partner notification process, laws and policies may adopt different approaches in notifying contacts. In some countries, the index patient may be required or encouraged on a voluntary basis to inform his or her contacts that they may have been exposed to HIV; public health legislation may allow or mandate health care professionals to notify and counsel identified partners when criteria are met; contact tracing conducted by public health officials may be supplemental to patients’ or physicians’ responsibility to inform or can only be done with voluntary consent of the patient; public health legislation may also permit or require a designated public health officials to notify promptly all identified contacts. To provide clear guidelines to public health officials and to assure balance between achieving public health goals and preserving confidentiality of the infected, it is necessary to review Taiwan's current HIV laws and regulations regarding the partner notification activities. This study will provide an ethical analysis, an effectiveness analysis and comparative legal analyses by conducting a literature review. This study will then examine the current regulatory framework as well as make recommendations to the reform of the Act.

Project IDs

Project ID:PF10507-0587
External Project ID:MOST105-2410-H182-002
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date01/08/1631/07/17

Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Partner Notification
  • Contact Tracing
  • Confidentiality

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