Confidentiality with HIV/AIDS

Duty of Confidentiality with HIV/AIDS
Ethical Decision Making
October 31, 2010

Duty of Confidentiality with HIV/AIDS
      As a healthcare professional there is a duty to maintain patient confidentiality. This is not only an ethical duty but also a legal priority.   When a legal priority is broken than the issue can go to court where there is common law and statutory duties that are imposed by different privacy statues.   Common law decisions are based upon earlier court rulings in similar cases (Burkhardt &Nathaniel 2008).   Statutory law is formal laws that are written and enacted by the federal, state or local legislatures (Burkhardt & Nathaniel 2008).   When a patient is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS this can because an ethical dilemma because the healthcare professional is aware that a third party is at risk for contracting the serious infection. Under the NSW Public Health Act 1991, HIV and AIDS are included in a list of schedules medical conditions that must be reported by medical practitioners and laboratories in accordance with legislation (Mair, 2008). The Act must take proper steps to keep patient confidentially and that he or she who suffers from a sexually transmissible condition to inform sexual partners before intercourse takes place.   This Act does not say that a healthcare professional is to inform others who will be at risk, such as other healthcare workers who will come in contact with this patient.   The NSW Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 prohibits the use of personal information for a purpose other than the purpose for which it was collected except if there is a serious and immediate threat to the life, health or safety of the individual or another person or threat to the public health or safety (Mair,2008).   This act causes the dilemma of whether or not a healthcare worker is to advise sexual partners of a patient who has HIV/AIDS.

      In New South Wales Supreme Court in...