Legal Information

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Confidentiality of medical information

Confidentiality of HIV-related Information Act (commonly known as Act 148): Pennsylvania’s Act 148 prohibits health-care providers and social service providers from disclosing HIV-related information without the permission of the subject except in certain limited instances.

HIPAA Privacy Rule – HIPAA is a federal law that 1) protects the privacy of patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers; 2) provides patients with access to their medical records; and 3) allows patients to determine how their personal health information is used and disclosed.

HIPAA/Act 148 Comparison Chart

HIV Testing

Confidentiality of HIV-related Information Act (commonly known as Act 148) – Act 148 describes Pennsylvania’s HIV testing protocol, which includes pre-test and post-test counseling. Act 148 also prohibits testing without the individual’s informed written consent, except in limited instances.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2006 revised recommendations for HIV testing of adults, adolescents and pregnant women in health-care settings. (September 2006)

AIDS Law Project’s response to CDC HIV Testing Recommendations (September 2006)

AIDS Law Project testimony before the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare opposing Senate Bill 1261. (May 14, 2008)

Fundamental Principles for HIV Testing (August 2008)

Health Care, Estate and Permanency Planning Documents

Will. A legal document that allows an individual to designate who inherits one’s money, property and personal belongings after death.

Advance Health-Care Directive. This directive is a health-care power of attorney and/or living will.

Health Care Power of Attorney (POA). A Health Care POA allows an individual to name someone else to serve as a health-care agent to make all health-care decisions.

Living Will. A living will is a written statement of the patient’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment and other care if the patient has an end-stage medical condition and is unable to communicate those wishes.

Act 169. The Pennsylvania law is the legal authority for advance health-care directives.

Financial Power of Attorney (POA). – A Financial POA allows an individual to name someone else to serve as an agent to make all financial decisions.

Probate. Probate is a process by which a deceased person’s debts are paid and assets distributed. The assets of the estate are used to pay the decedent’s debts and the remaining assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will or, if there is no will, the state laws of intestacy. See, generally, Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook.

Stand-by Guardianship. The Pennsylvania Standby Guardianship Law allows terminally ill parents to plan for their children’s futures.


Federal, state and local laws protect people with HIV/AIDS from disability discrimination in employment, municipal services and public accommodations.

Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Federal Rehabilitation Act prohibits disability-based discrimination by federal employers or contractors or by programs receiving federal financial assistance.

Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits disability-based discrimination in employment, state and municipal services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Prohibits disability-based discrimination in employment, house, public accommodations and services, including state, county and local governmental agencies.

Public Benefits

Cash assistance

Food stamps



Worker’s Compensation

Unemployment Compensation

Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Social Security Administration

Social Security’s Program Operations Manual System

Health Insurance

COBRA. A federal law that permits qualifying employees to maintain group health insurance after leaving employment. The qualified employee may be required to pay the full cost for the coverage. COBRA coverage has limited duration, but in most cases the maximum COBRA period is 18 or 36 months.

HIPAA Creditable Coverage – HIPAA requires that most health plans provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and protects the portability and continuity of health insurance coverage.

Employment Benefits

Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows a family member to take unpaid leave from their place of employment to care for an immediate family member (parent, spouse, and child) in certain circumstances.

Criminal Records Resolution Program

Under the Federal Welfare Reform Act (FWRA) of 1996, people with outstanding criminal warrants are banned from receiving Social Security benefits. Because these benefits also provide links to Medical Assistance, people covered by the ban are often also ineligible for primary medical care, drug treatment and behavioral health services. In response to the FWRA, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania has launched its Criminal Records Resolution Program (CRRP) to assist people living with or risk of HIV/AIDS whose outstanding criminal records are keeping them from these much-needed services. Once the issues are resolved, clients are entitled to receive cash benefits, food stamps and health care.

Corrections Reform Package Act 81

HIV/AIDS related legal issues

Pennsylvania AIDS Law Report Issue #1

Pennsylvania AIDS Law Report Issue #2

Pennsylvania AIDS Law Report Issue #3