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NAT calls for NHS to do more to reassure patients about confidentiality

Friday, January 8, 2010

Confidentiality a serious concern for people with HIV

A report released today by NAT (National AIDS Trust) calls for the Department of Health to clarify the rules surrounding patient confidentiality and for better staff training, particularly in relation to patients with HIV. Confidentiality in healthcare for people living with HIV finds that whilst medical professionals are generally obliged to keep personal information about a patient confidential, concerns about confidentiality are especially acute for people with HIV and breaches of confidentiality still occur. 

There are now over 85,000 people living with HIV in the UK.  The recently published People Living With HIV Stigma Index found that 42 per cent of survey participants were not certain that their medical records are being kept confidential.1

NAT’s report reviewed current protections within the NHS.  The report also found legalisation on the sharing of confidential sexual health information is not always clear.

Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, comments:

“Many people with HIV have concerns over their privacy particularly within healthcare settings.  Whilst in the vast majority of cases patient confidentiality is respected, breaches of confidentiality do occur.  These breaches are especially serious for people living with HIV who may fear HIV-related discrimination.   Not knowing how personal information will be treated also undermines efforts to encourage HIV testing.

With the electronic record systems soon to be introduced across the UK, reassuring patients that their private information will be protected is be vital to maintaining patient confidence.  Clear guidance on how and when confidential information can be shared and effective training for all NHS staff, must become a priority for the Department of Health.”

Following this report, NAT will be producing a simple guide for people living with HIV, explaining their rights and what they should expect from the NHS later this year.

Notes to the editor:

1 - People Living With HIV Stigma Index is a two-year research project funded by the Department for International Development and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. stigma and discrimination remain a significant challenge in the UK.htm

For further information please contact:
Katherine Sladden
Communications Officer
020 7814 6733
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
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