State HIV Testing Law Allowing for Verbal Consent Takes Effect

A new Massachusetts law took effect this week that removes the requirement for written informed consent prior to HIV testing, and now allows for verbal informed consent from the individual being tested.

Although there is no longer a statutory requirement to document verbal consent, some health care facilities are advising documentation of consent in the medical record. Written consent is still required for the release of testing information, but interpretations vary as to what form of consent fully complies with the law.

This week, the Department of Public Health issued a complex advisory (.pdf) on how the new law may change clinical practice.

The MMS is interested in hearing questions from our members in a variety of settings about how this advisory may change their procedures in their care setting.

HIV confidentiality laws have historically had a wide variety of interpretations in Massachusetts, and the DPH’s latest statement is likely to provoke significant discussion.

We will compile questions about the advisory and the law and ask for clarification with the DPH if necessary. Send your questions or comments to wryder@mms.org.

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