At times, our patients refuse to consider that they may have this disease because HIV is terrifying. This is a real and justified fear, given the history of HIV and AIDS in the United States and globally. HIV infection is a very serious medical condition, though no longer the sentence of an agonizing, wasting death that it was during the 1980s and 1990s. There are now medications that can slow the progression of the disease by years, even decades, in many cases.
Having HIV brings with it an unwanted stigma or a bad reputation. Federal laws exist, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and parts of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to protect them from discrimination and to ensure that benefits such as social or medical services will not be withheld (HIV.gov, 2023c; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2022b).
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of health information. Information about HIV/AIDS cannot be discussed except with the care team members for that patient. You cannot discuss information about HIV/AIDS with family and friends unless the patient agrees to share the information (Badahman, 2023). HIPAA also allows the patient to see what is written about them and even ask to correct what is documented (Badahman, 2023).