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N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2785 - Court Authorization for Disclosure of HIV-Related Information

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The law prohibits courts from issuing an order for disclosure of confidential HIV-related information unless a court of record of competent jurisdiction does so in accordance with this law.  The law allows a court to grant an order for disclosure of such information upon an applicant showing one of the following:

  1. A compelling need for disclosure in adjudication of a criminal/civil proceeding
  2. A clear and imminent danger to an individual whose life or health may be at risk as a result of contact with the protected individual
  3. When a state/county/local health officer applies for an order and there is a clear and imminent danger to public health
  4. When an applicant is lawfully entitled to the disclosure

When the court receives such an application for an order to disclose confidential HIV-related information, the court is required to then seal all pleadings, papers, affidavits, judgments, orders of the court, briefs and memoranda of law, and not allow anyone but those involved with the application access to these documents.  The law requires that all hearings on this application take place in private, only in the presence of the judge, the parties and their lawyers to prevent disclosure, and that all documents pertaining to the application for an order to disclose omit the name of the protected individual.
The law requires that when an application is made to ask the court to order disclosure of HIV-related information both the protected individual and the person holding records from whom disclosure is being sought need to be given adequate notice of the application.  Further the protected individual and the person holding the records should be given the opportunity to file a written response to the application or appear in person to provide evidence on the matter of disclosure of such information.  The court may grant the order with such notice and opportunity to be heard only if a public health officer shows that there is a clear and imminent danger to an individual whose life and health may unknowingly be at risk.
When the court assesses compelling need and clear and imminent danger, it must provide a written findings of fact, including scientific and medical findings, citing specific evidence, and weighing the need for disclosure against privacy interest of protected individual and public interest considerations.  The order itself should

  1. limit disclosure to information necessary to fulfill purpose
  2. limit disclosure to only those person whose need for the information is the basis for the order while specifically prohibiting redisclosure
  3. conform to the provisions of the law governing confidentiality of HIV-related information
  4.  include any other measures that the court believes is necessary to limit unauthorized disclosures.

Current as of June 2015