Section 63.8 - Contact notification

63.8 Contact notification.

(a) When contact notification is conducted based on the mandated reporting of cases of HIV infection, HIV-related illness and AIDS and the reporting of known contacts of such cases, and/or provided by the protected individual, all information collected in the course of these contact notification activities, including screening to assess risk of domestic violence, shall be kept confidential as required by Public Health Law, Article 21, Title III, and shall not be disclosed except when in the judgment of the public health official necessary to other authorized public health officials for conducting accurate and complete epidemiological monitoring of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and for conducting contact notification activities except that contact names and locating information may be disclosed to public health officials in other jurisdictions when necessary to notify the contact; no information about the protected individual will be released to any person in this process. Disclosures and notifications shall be made as follows:

(1) Physicians and other persons required to report as provided for in section 63.4 of this Part must indicate on the reporting form whether they have conducted post-test counseling and an assessment of the risk of domestic violence in conformance with a domestic violence screening protocol developed by the commissioner, whether they plan to undertake contact notification activities, have completed notification of contacts or are making a referral for partner notification assistance to authorized public health officials. If the physician or other mandated reporter chooses to conduct notification, the results of those activities, including information specified by the commissioner on forms supplied by the commissioner, or their equivalent, must be forwarded to the appropriate authorized public health official, pursuant to section 63.4.

(2) The commissioner shall forward initial reports from physicians and other mandated reporters, including the names and addresses of the reported case and of the known contacts, and/or contacts provided by the protected person, the status of provider initiated contact notification activities and the determination of risk of domestic violence, if any, to the authorized public health official in the county where the reported case resides.

(3) Consistent with guidelines acceptable to the commissioner in conformance with Article 21 of the Public Health Law, authorized public health officials, upon determination that the reported case, reported contacts, or any other case merits contact notification in order to protect the public health, shall make a good faith effort to seek the cooperation of the protected individual to name contacts they wish to have notified, to notify the known contacts and to inform the public health official in the jurisdiction where any additional contacts reside, when necessary to notify such contacts. No information about the protected individual will be released to any person in this process.

(b) Authorized public health officials shall consider the following as important factors in determining the priority for which cases merit contact notification in order to protect the public health:

(1) reported contacts, including spouses known to the reporting physician or other diagnostic provider, or who the protected individual wishes to have notified, unless the provider certifies that these known contacts have already been notified;

(2) protected individuals who are newly diagnosed with HIV infection; and

(3) protected individuals who were previously diagnosed with HIV infection, and who show evidence of: being out of medical care; not being virally suppressed; recent sexually transmitted diseases; or having recently moved into New York State.

(c) In cases which merit contact notification, if an indication of risk of domestic violence has been identified, pursuant to a protocol acceptable to the commissioner, the authorized public health official, in consultation with the reporting physician, must be satisfied in his/her professional judgment that reasonable arrangements, efforts or referrals to address the safety of affected persons have been made if and when the notification is to proceed. Such consultation shall also consider information, if available, requested from the protected person, or from a domestic violence service provider pursuant to a signed release.

(d) Authorized public health officials shall conduct contact notification activities consistent with guidelines acceptable to the commissioner which will recognize the special needs of adolescents, individuals in residential and institutional settings, and other vulnerable populations.

(e) Authorized public health officials will respond to all requests from HIV infected individuals and their health care providers for assistance in notifying contacts.

(f) When contact notification is conducted by authorized public health officials, such officials shall:

(1) confirm that post-test counseling of the protected person is completed;

(2) when communication with the protected person is necessary, communicate with the protected person in a confidential, private and safe manner to seek cooperation in contact notification activities, to verify the information about the identity or location of known contacts, to conduct or confirm a screen for domestic violence and if applicable, to make referrals regarding domestic violence, prior to any notification of contacts. If communication cannot be made in a
confidential, private and safe manner, it shall be deferred until these requirements can be met; and

(3) in circumstances where the protected individual cannot be contacted for post-test counseling or declines to be assessed for risk of domestic violence in relation to known contacts, the authorized public health official shall make the determination of whether to proceed with notification of known contacts, in consultation with the reporting physician.

(g) All persons notifying contacts shall provide counseling or make referrals or appointments for counseling and testing as appropriate. Such counseling must address coping emotionally with potential exposure to HIV, domestic violence issues, an explanation regarding the nature of HIV infection and HIV-related illness, availability of anonymous and confidential testing, information on preventing exposure or transmission of HIV infection, information regarding discrimination problems that might occur as a result of disclosure of HIV-related information, and legal protections against such disclosures. All notifications shall be in person, except where circumstances reasonably prevent doing so, e.g., at the request of the contact.

(h) If a protected person is now deceased, contacts (e.g., spouse) are known to the physician and the physician believes the protected person had not informed such contacts, the physician or his/her agent may notify such contacts or shall request the authorized public health official to notify the contacts, without identifying the protected individual to the contact.

(i) A physician or authorized public health official shall have no obligation to identify or locate any contact, except as provided pursuant to Public Health Law Article 21, Title III. No criminal sanction or civil liability shall arise against a physician, his/her employer or designated agent, health facility, health care provider or authorized public health official for the disclosure of confidential HIV-related information to a contact or to a person consenting to health care for the contact when in compliance with Article 27-F, or for the failure to disclose such information to a contact or to a person consenting to health care for the contact.

(j) Municipal health commissioners must provide HIV contact notification services and shall forward to the department, summary data and all identifiable information related to notification activities upon completion of such activity unless otherwise determined by the commissioner. Information identifying the contact collected in the course of contact notification activities by authorized public health officials shall not be maintained at the state or local level for longer than administratively necessary. The Department or local health department shall establish a records retention and disposition schedule for destruction of these records.

(k) For the purposes of notifying contacts under Public Health Law section 2782(1)(d), blood transfusion and organ and tissue transplantation present a risk of HIV transmission. Notifying contacts potentially exposed to HIV through tissues, organs, or transfused blood under a federally mandated recipient notification program or guidelines acceptable to the commissioner shall be sufficient to meet the notification requirements of Article 21, Title III and Article 27-F. Blood banks, organ procurement organizations, and tissue banks may disclose the HIV status of a donation to a donor's provider for the purposes of notifying known contacts of a donor.

(l) When contact notification is initiated by a physician not related to reporting mandates or Article 21, Title III, but based on authority to notify an identified spouse, sex partner, hypodermic needle and syringe partner under Public Health Law section 2782(4), physicians or their agents and authorized public health officials may conduct contact notification as follows:

(1) a physician or his/her agent may, without the protected person's consent, notify such contact or report such contact to the authorized public health official for the purpose of notifying a contact when:

(i) the physician believes disclosure is medically appropriate and a significant risk of infection may exist to the contact; and

(ii) the protected person has been counseled to notify his/her contacts or the physician has taken all reasonable efforts to attempt to counsel the person; and

(iii) domestic violence screening in accordance with the screening protocol has been applied;

(2) the physician must inform the protected person of the physician's intent to notify such contacts and of their responsibility to report the case and such contacts to the commissioner, and inform the protected person that he/she may express a preference whether contact notification shall be made by the physician or authorized public health official, and that the protected individual's name or other information about them is not disclosed to any person during the contact notification process;

(3) if the protected person's preference is for the authorized public health official to notify contacts or if the protected person's preference is for the physician to notify contacts but the physician chooses not to do so, he/she shall notify the protected person of his/her decision to contact the authorized public health official and shall forward names and addresses of the case and contacts to the authorized public health official, who shall take reasonable measures to notify such contacts. If the protected person's preference is for the physician to notify contacts and the physician elects to do so, the physician or his/her agent may then notify contacts; and

(4) the physician must report to the authorized public health official regarding the success or failure of such efforts, including the names and addresses of the cases and contacts. If contacts have not been notified or notification cannot be verified by the physician or his/her agent, public health officers shall take reasonable measures to inform the contact as set forth in subdivisions (b) through (g) of section 63.8.

(m) When the requirements of this section have been met, physicians and other diagnostic providers may disclose HIV-related information, without a release of confidential HIV-related information, to physicians or other diagnostic providers of persons whom the protected individual may have exposed to HIV under the circumstances noted below that present a risk of transmission of HIV, except that disclosures related to exposures of emergency response employees governed by federal law shall continue to be governed by such law:

(1) the incident must involve exposure to blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, tissue or the following body fluids: cerebrospinal, amniotic, peritoneal, synovial, pericardial and pleural; and

(2) a person has contact with the body substances, as noted in paragraph (1) above, of another to mucus membranes (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth), non-intact skin (e.g., open wound, skin with a dermatitis condition, abraded areas) or to the vascular system. Examples of such contact may include needlesticks, puncture wound injuries and direct saturation or permeation of non-intact skin by potentially infectious substances. These circumstances shall not include those delineated in subdivision (d) of section 63.10; and

(3) the exposure incident occurred to staff, employees or volunteers in the performance of employment or professional duties:

(i) in a medical or dental office; or

(ii) in a facility regulated, authorized or supervised by the Department of Health, Office of Mental Health, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; or

(iii) involved an emergency response employee, paid or volunteer, including an emergency medical technician, a firefighter, a law enforcement officer (e.g., police, probation, parole officer) or local correctional officer or medical staff; and

(4) an incident report documenting the details of the exposure, including witnesses to the incident, if any, is on record with supervisory staff; and

(5) a request for disclosure of HIV status is made to the provider of the source or to the medical officer designated by the facility by the exposed person or by the provider of the exposed person as soon as possible after the alleged exposure if a decision relating to the initiation or continuation of post-exposure prophylactic treatment is being considered; and

(6) documentation of the request is placed in the medical record of the exposed person; and

(7) if the provider of the source or the medical officer designated by the facility determines that a risk of transmission has occurred or is likely to have occurred in the reasonable exercise of his/her professional judgment, the provider or medical officer may release the HIV status of the source, if known. The provider or medical officer may consult with the municipal health commissioner or district health officer to determine whether a risk of transmission exists. If consultation occurs, both the provider and the local health officer must be in agreement if the HIV information is to be disclosed. In the disclosure process the name of the source shall not be provided to the exposed person. Redisclosure of the HIV status of the source is prohibited except when made in conformance with Public Health Law Article 21, Title III.

(n) In cases of anonymous testing of an occupational exposure source patient who is deceased, comatose or otherwise unable to provide consent, and no person authorized to consent on behalf of the source person is immediately available, as provided for in Public Health Law Section 2781(6)(e), the results of such anonymous test, but not the identity of the source person, shall be disclosed only to the attending health care professional of the exposed person solely for the purpose of assisting the exposed person in making appropriate decisions regarding post-exposure medical treatment. The results of the test shall not be disclosed to the source person or placed in the source person’s medical record.

Effective Date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Doc Status: 
Complete