Liberia’s House of Representatives Passes HIV/AIDS Confidentiality Act
Liberia's House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Anti-HIV/AIDS Act, which would make it unlawful to disclose a person's HIV/AIDS status without that individual's prior consent, Liberia's News reports.
The act states that people with access to patient medical records -- such as medical or support staff in health facilities, recruitment agencies, insurance companies or data administrators -- cannot release the results of any individual's HIV test. Violation of the act would result in a fine of at least 1,000 Liberian dollars, or about $16, imposed by Liberia's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the suspension or revocation of the person's professional license or operating permit for at least one year. The act further stipulates that people living with HIV have the right to pursue civil action for the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. According to the act, only the person tested for HIV can have access to information about his or her HIV status, except in legal cases.
In addition, the act states that any individual who transmits HIV to another person through negligence or carelessness in performing his or her professional duties can be tried for offense under Liberian law. The health ministry also could impose a fine of 10,000 Liberian dollars, or $160, upon a clinic, hospital or institution responsible for the offense, and the person who contracted HIV as a result could pursue civil action for damages and relief. The act additionally states that willfully transmitting HIV to another person or continuing to have unprotected sex with a partner while being aware of an HIV-positive status would be considered a crime.
Rep. Alomiza Ennos-Barr, who introduced the act, said its passage by the House is a positive step for HIV-positive people in the country. She added that the act aims to protect not only people living with HIV/AIDS but also people who are HIV-negative. According to the News, the act has been sent to Liberia's Senate for consideration (Fahngon, News, 9/4).