Yes. Vermont law provides for disclosure of HIV status under specifically prescribed circumstances.
1. Court Ordered Disclosure
Under Vermont law, a court may order that an individual disclose HIV-related testing or counseling information if it finds that the person seeking the information has “demonstrated a compelling need for it that cannot be accommodated by other means” (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 1705 (a)). In making such a determination, the court weighs the need for the disclosure of a person’s HIV status against the privacy interest at stake. In recognition of the importance of maintaining the privacy of HIV status, the Vermont Legislature has also directed courts in such cases to consider whether the public interest may be disserved by a disclosure of HIV status that deters future testing and may lead to discrimination.
The law contains numerous procedural safeguards, including a requirement that the name of the test subject not be disclosed, the right of the test subject to participate in the court hearing, and a requirement that any court order specify who may have access to the HIV-related information and prohibitions on future disclosure.
2. HIV and AIDS Reporting for Epidemiological Tracking
All states require that numerous health conditions be reported to state health officials in order to assess trends in the epidemiology of diseases and develop effective prevention strategies. Vermont law requires that a broad range of health care providers, hospitals, and managed care organizations report a diagnosis of HIV infection or AIDS to the Department of Health (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §1001 (a)). The patient’s name is included in the report. Vermont law specifies that:
- An individual must be informed prior to an HIV test that a positive test will require reporting of the individual’s name to the Department of Health and that there are testing sites that provide anonymous testing that are not required to report positive results.
- The Department of Health is prohibited from disclosing a public health record identifying a person as having HIV or AIDS without the individual’s voluntary written authorization, including to other states, the federal government or other Vermont state agencies.
- Department of Health records identifying a person as having HIV or AIDS may not be used in a civil, criminal or administrative legal proceeding, or for employment or insurance purposes.