The Ukrainian legislature protects personal health information prohibiting its unlawful disclosure. However, in fact, cases of health professionals disclosing a person’s HIV status and thus directly violating the patient’s rights and breaching the law, are common.
What do you need to remember and what shall you do in such situations?
- First of all, to act correctly, you need to know the following. No health facility employees (physicians, nurses, non-clinical staff) to whom your disease and the health status became known in performing their duties, have the right to disclose this information, except in cases envisaged by law.
Disclosing information about medical examination to detect human immune deficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome and its results incurs criminal liability based on Article 132 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
- The fact of seeking medical care in a healthcare facility, along with the person’s health status and diagnosis, constitute medical secrecy according to Article 39-1 of the “The fundamentals of the legislature of Ukraine concerning healthcare” – the right to confidentiality of the health status.
- Disclosing the information means that a person liable for ensuring confidentiality of the health information that became known to him or her, unlawfully reveals it to third parties or establishes conditions under which the medical information about a patient of a healthcare facility may become known to the third parties, especially if it relates to the patient’s HIV status. Information can be disclosed in many different ways: in talks with other people, for example, the patient’s neighbors, passing an invitation for the next visit to the AIDS Center with third parties, or giving documents containing confidential information, to third parties.
- According to Article 15 of the Law of Ukraine “On preventing dissemination of diseases caused by human immune deficiency virus (HIV) and legal and social protection of people living with HIV”, people living with HIV are entitled to reparation of harm related to restriction of their rights due to publicization or disclosure of information about their positive HIV status.
Conduct of the client whose rights are violated by disclosure of HIV-positive status
- If the victim of the offence (HIV status disclosure) is willing to hold the offending health professional to criminal liability, he/she shall file a complaint about the offence under Article 132 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine with the National Police of Ukraine.
- A person harmed by restrictions of his/her rights due to his/her HIV status publicization/disclosure, is entitled to take a civil legal action against the offender (a health professional or a health facility, depending on the case) demanding reparation of harm under Article 15 of the Law of Ukraine “On preventing dissemination of diseases caused by human immune deficiency virus (HIV) and legal and social protection of people living with HIV”.