California State Senator Mark Leno has announced the introduction of legislation he cowrote with Assemblymember Mark Stone to modernize California’s HIV confidentiality and data sharing laws. The bill is cosponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, AIDS Legal Referral Panel and Conference of California Bar Associations. SB 249 would protect the privacy of HIV and AIDS patients while allowing for the disclosure of important medical information under certain, limited circumstances. The hope is that this would allow for better coordination in care. It also updates the state’s confidentiality requirements for HIV tests in order to cover all tests that are used for diagnosis.
Senator Leno stated that “California’s privacy protection laws for HIV patients are in great need of modernization. With improvements in both state and federal laws that fully protect patient confidentiality, California’s ban on the disclosure of HIV information between caregivers has become an impediment to HIV and AIDS patients who are transitioning to new health care systems or trying to coordinate care between two or more providers. It is time to update our laws to ensure that all patients get the vital healthcare services they need, regardless of their HIV status.”
California’s law prohibits any sharing of HIV information by public health authorities- barring only a small number of exemptions. This bill would ensure confidentiality without compromising the confidentiality of sensitive medical information. The bill is necessary to bring compliance with federal health care reform.
Neil Giuliano, the CEO of the SF AIDS Foundation, stated “This bill is critically important because, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, people living with HIV will be transitioning into new systems of care. This legislation modernizes how we protect and report health information to ensure that people won’t lose access to life-saving care and treatment as these transitions occur.”