Court blocks bid by police to learn suspect''s HIV status

Copyright 2001 LRP Publications
AIDS Policy and Law

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts man does not have to reveal his HIV status to police officers who were spattered with his blood during a violent confrontation, a justice on the state''s highest court ruled Feb. 15.

Justice Martha B. Sosman, who heard the case during an emergency single-justice session of the Supreme Judicial Court, said current state law clearly states that a person cannot be forced to disclose his HIV status.

While police officers may have a compelling desire to know if the man was infected when they shot and struggled with him in the course of an arrest Jan. 22, the law provides absolute confidentiality for HIV tests without exception.

The ruling creates new appellate jurisprudence in Massachusetts, which has one of the nation''s strictest HIV confidentiality statutes.

Sosman overturned the decision of a Springfield District Court judge who ordered Luis W. Ortiz, the man involved in the confrontation, to reveal whether he has HIV.

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