HIV and AIDS information is more sensitive than other types of health conditions because patients actually do not seek medical attention for fear of breach in confidentiality. This fear directly affects their health because they are not seeking treatment for the illness they have. Organizations involved with HIV care are aware of the need to protect confidentiality of those individuals receiving services. Accordingly, HIPAA has put into place rules and regulations with civil and criminal penalties to ensure confidentiality and the rights of individuals are protected. While HIPPA does not separately address HIV/AIDS patient information, individuals are still protected under the general guidelines regarding release of any health information including HIV status. Advocates encourage individuals to embrace this opportunity to use HIPAA as a way to discuss confidentiality with their healthcare professionals to know when information is being shared with others and why it is being done. This allows you to understand your rights and impact how your information is being protected.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) attempts to address some of the barriers to healthcare coverage and related job mobility impediments facing people with HIV as well as other vulnerable populations. HIPAA has three main goals. The first is to provide persons with group coverage new protections from discriminatory treatment. The second is to enable small groups (such as businesses with a small number of employees) to obtain and keep health insurance coverage more easily. The third is to give persons losing/leaving group coverage new options for obtaining individual coverage. This law provides several protections important to people with HIV/AIDS. The first is it limits (but does not wholly eliminate) the use of pre-existing condition exclusions. It also prohibits group health... [continues]
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