HIV / AIDS and reportable diseases

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Many people think that people living with HIV/AIDS are required to disclose their HIV status to their employer, dentist, physician, etc. In fact, HIV/AIDS is not necessarily a reportable disease. And the type of reporting in question can vary depending on the situation. Let’s separate the true from the false.

  1. What is a reportable disease?
  2. Is HIV/AIDS a reportable disease?
  3. When are people living with HIV required to disclose their HIV status?

1- What is a reportable disease?

The Public Health Agency of Canada defines a reportable disease as “a disease that is considered to be of such importance to the public health that its occurrence is required to be reported to public health authorities.” These include infectious diseases, diseases thought to be eradicated or controlled, diseases caused by exposure to chemical products, parasites, etc. Diseases including cholera, malaria, plague, cancer caused by asbestos, whooping cough, and measles are among the reportable diseases listed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

It is up to the provinces to decide what is considered a reportable disease, and what action will be required for each. They also determine what information will be passed on to the federal agency.

Quebec has established its own list of reportable diseases, which must be reported to the public health department within 48 hours. The list is made up of diseases likely to cause an epidemic if not controlled, that are recognized as a significant public health risk, that require vigilance, and that are preventable. In these cases, the name of the person infected with a reportable disease, their contact information, their birth date, their medicare number, and the details of the progression of the disease must be reported to the public health department, in order to avoid contagion. The infected person would then be monitored closely.

2- Is HIV/AIDS a reportable disease?

The answer is yes… And and no.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has included HIV/AIDS in its list of reportable diseases. However, once the list is shared with the provinces, it is up to them to decide what should be reported to Health Canada authorities. In Quebec, the reporting of new cases of HIV/AIDS to Health Canada is non-nominal: the physician reports the case, the person’s age, gender, and some general information, but does not reveal the identity of the infected person. The information reported can therefore be used only for statistical purposes.

In Quebec, HIV/AIDS is not considered a reportable disease requiring close monitoring, since it is not a communicable disease that needs immediate intervention. The only situation in which HIV/AIDS is considered a reportable disease is if the person has received blood or tissues.

Each new case of HIV/AIDS is reported to the Canadian Public Health Agency for statistical purposes, but no personal information about the person’s identity is shared, and no monitoring is done by the department of public health, unless the person has given or received blood or tissues. The newly diagnosed individual could, however, be followed by a specialized physician in order to receive appropriate treatment, as necessary.

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3- When are people living with HIV required to disclose their HIV status?

A person’s HIV status is confidential. It is personal information that cannot be disclosed without the consent of the person concerned, unless required by law.

There are two situations in which a person living with HIV would have to disclose their HIV status:

The obligation to disclose is therefore unrelated to the notion of reportable diseases. Outside of these two scenarios, a person living with HIV is in no way required to disclose their HIV status.

In addition, in no circumstance is a third party permitted to disclose the HIV status of another person without their consent.

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VIH INFO DROITS does not provide legal advice or counsel.

The information in this document is not intended to council the public, and does not replace the services of a lawyer. Although we monitor legal developments, we cannot guarantee that the information presented here is up to date.

COCQ-SIDA cannot be held responsible for any damages resulting from the use of the information contained in this document.