February 11, 2013
Researching Enforcement of HIV Criminal Law in Michigan
It’s bad social policy for Michigan health officials to use surveillance data to assist in enforcing HIV criminal laws, according to a University of Michigan study published in the journal Social Problems and reported by the university’s news service. Counselors at publicly funded health clinics in Michigan are required to ask clients who test HIV positive for the names of their sexual partners. Researchers found that some health officials also ask those clients if their partners disclosed they have HIV. Those officials then cross-reference those names with a statewide database. If a partner is identified by the state as HIV positive and the client says that person did not disclose, then a criminal investigation would be launched. Researchers question whether it is ethical for officials to use confidential medical information to enforce the law.
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