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White paper answers “FAQ on Confidentiality and HIV+ Clients”

Professor Kim Strom-Gottfried has published a new paper, “FAQ on Confidentiality and HIV+ Clients.” It is the second in her series of periodic white papers, Theimann Advisory, which address questions transcending legal, ethical and clinical issues.

Faculty member Tina Souders, MSW, JD, and David DeVito, MSW ’09, are co-authors.

This Advisory answers frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding confidentiality challenges that arise in providing services to individuals with HIV and AIDS. It is specifically targeted to services that are ancillary to primary disease management. That is, it focuses on privacy concerns arising in residential treatment, family counseling, substance abuse services, or mental health settings, rather than in medical or health care settings.

“Tina and I selected this topic for our second advisory because it arises so often in our workshops,” said Strom-Gottfried. “Keeping clients’ secrets is a really challenging part of professional practice, given the pressures of loyalty and liability that that responsibility carries, but the life and death nature of HIV creates a particularly visceral response in practitioners. State laws are quite divergent on the topic, but we wanted to at least provide a beginning road map for this complex and worrisome dilemma.”

Strom-Gottfried is the Smith P. Theimann Distinguished Professor for Ethics and Professional Practice. On July 15, she gave the keynote address at the 35th Annual Conference of the National Rural Social Work Caucus in Presque Isle, Maine, speaking on moral courage.