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November 17, 2009

Freedom of Information Act Policies Under Review After Man’s HIV Status Exposed

After police released classified information concerning an arrested man’s HIV status in Lansing, Michigan, officials are reviewing the city’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies, the Lansing State Journal reports. The concern over these guidelines began after the city released, at the request of FOIA, a police report that failed to redact the HIV-positive status of a man apprehended for indecent exposure.

Lansing city attorney Brig Smith is meeting with city police, local LGBT advocates and civil rights organizations to discuss possible policy changes, which would take into account federal medical privacy legislation. He will give a report at the Lansing City Council’s next Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 18.

“The policies that are in place right now need to be clarified,” said Councilwoman Sandy Allen, chair of the committee.

Although the Michigan attorney general cleared its capital of any wrongdoing, the Lansing Association for Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Triangle Foundation—which protects the LGBT community from violence, intimidation and discrimination—have also been invited to talk with Smith and the city police.

“When [HIV status] is disclosed, there is sometimes a witch hunt,” said Triangle Foundation executive director Alicia Skillman. “People still do not understand the disease. Nondisclosure needs to be implemented and practiced.”

Search: Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, Michigan, Lansing, indecent exposure, medical privacy, disclosure, Lansing Association for Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, Triangle Foundation

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