Court upholds confidentiality of a person’s HIV status

TRENTON – A court has ruled in favor of the state in a case dealing with non-disclosure of a person’s HIV status.

The Superior Court today ruled that the state Department of Health and Senior Services did not have to inform a person of a partner’s positive-HIV status.

Legally, the court stated that the plaintiff in the matter failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and the court has granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

A person identified only by initials BR had sued the state, the Newark Community Health Center Inc., and a physician. The plaintiff had had a long-term relationship with someone that ended in April 2010, the court said.

Afterward, BR discovered the former partner had tested positive for HIV in December 1993, and had infected her in 2010. BR argued that the state and the other defendants knew or should have known about the HIV status of the former partner and had a duty to inform her.

However, the defendants responded that they were prevented by regulations that prohibit such disclosure without a written consent.

BR had argued that the courts impose an “affirmative duty’’ on agencies to prevent exposing someone to a contagious disease.

New Jersey adopted a law in 1989 regarding confidentiality of HIV and AIDS records. That act mandated that disclosure is allowed only with prior written consent of the person who is the subject of the records.

In reviewing all applicable regulations, the court decided that it could not impose on the state such a duty to disclose HIV status to a third party. Court upholds confidentiality of a person’s HIV status