Medical privacy lapsed into critical condition on April 16 when Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle became the first governor to sign legislation giving teachers who are exposed to a student’s blood the right to assign the youngster a mandatory HIV test. Teacher Cheryl Hartman began the brouhaha in 2001 after a teenage student unintentionally splattered blood in her eye. Privacy advocates say the law tramples medical rights and may encourage discrimination against gay students. James Esseks, litigation director for the ACLU AIDS Project, told POZ that although the law probably qualifies as constitutional, it could “feed fear and hysteria about HIV.” Hartman, who eventually tested negative, argues, “It’s not a privacy issue—it’s a health issue, so someone could receive treatment immediately.” Privacy vs. health—a tricky question indeed.
August 1, 2004 • By Lucile Scott