HIV and Confidentiality in China

The right to privacy is an important civil right of all citizens. This includes privacy of personal information and the right to make personal decisions, including the right to keep personal information confidential. Under privacy provisions, health institutions and medical personnel should not disclose any personal information about people to a third party without consent.

Disclosure of HIV status without consent can have serious consequences for people living with HIV, especially in a social environment where stigma and discrimination are pervasive. Negative repercussions may even extend into the work and home environments in the form of limited career development opportunities, denial of employment and damaged familial and social networks. [ ]

In order to protect the rights of people with HIV to privacy, China recently developed a range of policies. These include the Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (revised in 2004), the Tort Liability Law (2010) and the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Regulation (2006). In the international community, several standards and guidelines have been developed to address the rights of people living with HIV. In 2010, the International Labour Conference adopted the Recommendation Concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work (R200) to protect the rights of people with HIV. The UNAIDS Guidelines on Protecting the Confidentiality and Security of HIV Information in 2007 and the WHO/UNAIDS Guidance on Provider-initiated HIV Testing and Counseling in Health Facilities in 2007 also provide guidance on managing information related to HIV status. However, despite these international standards and national policies, privacy violations of people with HIV are still occurring on a regular basis in China.