Personal health information is considered to be one of the most sensitive categories of information and deserving of special protection. As a matter of public policy, the right to privacy is a fundamental human right that implies clear responsibilities on the part of states. Except in narrow circumstances that must be legally and ethically justified, all people, including those living with HIV/AIDS, should have the power to decide how, when, to whom, and to what extent their personal health information is shared.
People living with HIV/AIDS often suffer discrimination as a result of the unauthorized disclosure of their HIV status. As a result, many lose their jobs, housing and insurance, and see their personal relationships with family and friends compromised.
Protecting and promoting the human right to privacy is essential to meeting the public health goals of lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals and communities and minimizing its transmission and to recognizing the inherent dignity of people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Our work on this issue contributes to the informed development of Canadian laws and policies that support the right to privacy and the confidentiality of health information of people living with HIV/AIDS.