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September 9, 2009

Michigan Ruling on HIV Disclosure Case Highlights Medical Privacy Issues

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s decision to clear Lansing attorney Brigham Smith of any criminal wrongdoing in the public release of an arrested man’s HIV status has raised medical privacy concerns in the state, The Michigan Messenger reports.

Advocates say the release of HIV-related information goes against the Michigan Public Health Code. “We need to take action to make sure we can’t impinge on those rights [to medical privacy],” said State Senator Gretchen Whitmer.

Outrage from activists came after the investigation of a May 22 undercover sex-sting operation in Fenner Nature Center by the Lansing Police Department. During the operation, two men were arrested, one of whom was HIV positive.

According to the article, media outlets requested the release of documents on the investigation, an appeal that was initially denied. Smith eventually delivered the documents, which included the HIV status of one of the men arrested.

On the heels of the recent ruling, Smith wrote, “I am comfortable that this is the correct legal outcome, but this still leaves many policy issues to address with the working group.” The attorney general is currently working on a new policy that will prevent the release of private medical information in the future.

Search: Michigan, medical privacy, sex-sting


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