Springfield, Mass., City Council Members Back Legislation Requiring Criminals to Disclose HIV Status
A group of Springfield, Mass., city council members is sponsoring a resolution that asks the full council to support "any provision" that would amend state law to require criminal defendants to reveal their HIV status in cases where public safety personnel may have been exposed, the Springfield Union-News reports. The move follows a state Supreme Court decision handed down last month that reaffirmed state privacy laws that protect people who do not wish to disclose their HIV status, even if public safety personnel have a potential exposure to their blood. Councilmember William Foley Jr. drafted a resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Timothy Rooke, Timothy Ryan and Angelo Puppolo Jr., that asks the council to support any legislation that requires HIV status disclosure to police and firefighters if they have a potential exposure. Rooke and Ryan Thursday night indicated their support for an amendment to the resolution that would include "crime victims and health care workers." The councilmembers also expressed their support of a specific state bill, introduced last month by state Rep. Gale Candaras (D), that would give judges the power to mandate that criminals reveal their HIV serostatus to crime victims, health care workers, police and other public safety officials. "I think that whenever an innocent victim is threatened with contamination of a deadly virus, that individual's rights precede those of a criminal or someone arrested for an illegal act," Rooke said, adding, "You can't break the laws of society and then expect to be protected by them." Foley said he is willing to discuss changes to the resolution but "initially" favors disclosures for only police and firefighters who are "more susceptible to contact with people who have infectious diseases" (Goonan, Springfield Union-News, 3/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.