LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Being Alive Los Angeles, an organization of, by and for people living with HIV and AIDS, today sent a stern letter to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health Services about the methods used to obtain the private medical records of adult industry actors who had been provided with treatment by the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (AIM).
In response to an HIV-AIDS scare in the Los Angeles adult film industry, the LA Department of Public Health Services ordered AIM to turn over the health care records of approximately 50 adult industry actors who were provided medical treatment at the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation. The release of medical information to government agencies is authorized only in response to a subpoena, which the LADPHS did not posses at the time.
"The Department's actions raise serious privacy and policy concerns," said Peter Eliasberg, Managing Attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "As a government entity you are not entitled to simply knock on the door of any medical clinic and demand private, confidential medical records."
In a letter addressed to LADPHS director Peter Kerndt, the organizations also cite the need for privacy protections when dealing with HIV prevention efforts.
"The Department's actions were counter-productive to HIV prevention efforts," said Stanton J. Price, President of Being Alive Los Angeles. "Volunteer testing is an essential component of any efforts to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS. By seizing private medical records the County is sending the wrong message to film actors and anyone else considering being tested."
"I think its safe to say that everyone is on the same page when it comes to preventing and containing HIV-AIDS," said Peter Eliasberg. "However the actions undertaken by the Department underscore the need to adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to the confidential medical records of people who voluntarily come forward and agree to be tested."