Confidentiality of HIV-related information

Confidentiality means that personal information is private, and may not be shared without your permission. The confidentiality of a person’s HIV status is important because people with HIV and AIDS face discrimination when other people find out they have HIV. People will only get tested and treated for HIV, if they know their HIV status will be kept private.

Federal and state laws require that a person’s HIV status be kept confidential. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (known as HIPAA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of person’s health information. Pennsylvania’s Act 148 (named the Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act) says that a health care provider or social service provider cannot share HIV test results without written permission, except in limited instances.

Health care, social service providers and clinical laboratories in Pennsylvania are required to report the names of people with HIV/AIDS to the local health department. The health department is required to keep HIV reports confidential, and the reporting of HIV test results is intended to help keep better track of the epidemic. The local health department reports how many people have HIV/AIDS and other non-identifying information to the state health department. They do not report the names.


Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act- as amended (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. (Note: Act 148 was amended in July 2011. The amendments only affect the HIV-testing provisions of this law. The confidentiality sections remain unchanged. )

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.

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HIPAA Privacy Rule: Frequently Asked Questions


HIPAA/Act 148 Comparison Chart

How to Respond to a Subpoena (April 2010)