Detroit News (08.20.03) - Tuesday, August 26, 2003
A man in Wayne County, Mich., is suing an Ypsilanti nonprofit
agency, HIV/AIDS Resource Center, for publishing an annual
report with his picture and identifying him as HIV- positive.
The man, to whom the lawsuit refers as "John Doe," worked at
HARC as a volunteer two years ago, during which time the
company published the report over which he is suing.
"You can't disclose that type of information," said his
attorney, Vanessa G. Fluker of Southfield, Mich. Her client
wants to be compensated for "the ridicule and [ostracism] that
he's now experienced in the community because of the negative
stigma associated with this condition," she said.
Jimena Loveluck, president and CEO of HARC, said the group
takes confidentiality seriously and does not release medical
information. She did not comment on the lawsuit.
A group of volunteers founded HARC in 1986. The nonprofit
provides HIV/AIDS-related services to residents in Jackson,
Lenawee, Livingston and Wastenaw counties.
The Michigan legislature has passed several laws since 1986
regarding HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. The state's HIV
confidentiality laws require that all information related to
HIV/AIDS be confidential, including whether or not a person
has been tested, according to the Michigan Advocates Exchange.
"It's not a very well-known law," said Kendra Kleber, director
of legal services for the exchange, which serves HIV/AIDS
patients. "The stigma is still so bad that I think people are
not surprised to learn that they should not be talking about
someone else's HIV status."