nursing and midwifery - text



It is generally accepted that good healthcare involves sharing of personal information with appropriate healthcare staff.  A primary concern for people living with HIV is the management of information about their HIV status. Who needs to know?


Here Kate describes how she felt when she realised that midwives who were not involved in her care had been told of her HIV status...



Kate was concerned about the potential implications of people knowing about her HIV status and that information passing to people who knew her.

Debbie explains her concerns about confidentiality and how she sought out anonymity by going to a larger hospital where no one would know her....


Confidentiality is a fundamental part of professional practice that protects human rights. The Data Protection Act (1988) gives people the right to know what information is held about them and provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly. Furthermore, the Human Rights Act (1998) states that all individuals have a right to respect for family and family life. Therefore there is potential for legal action if confidentiality rights have been breached.

Take some time now to consider how you would manage telling someone they are HIV positive and how you would manage their right to confidentiality.

Here Jenny (Antenatal Screening Coordinator) describes her role in supporting women with their positive HIV diagnosis, the dilemma of maintaining confidentiality and deciding who needs to know when caring for women who are HIV positive. She describes a recent experience of a new diagnosis in pregnancy, where the woman’s main concerns were that no one should know, not even her sister who was to be her birth partner or her older children who needed testing. Jenny describes how this was managed....



Due to the impact of HIV related stigma, fear of disclosure of a positive HIV status may override obstetric concerns for the pregnant woman and her partner. Therefore, confidentiality is as important as prevention of vertical transmission and maintenance of maternal health. It is recommended that health professionals obtain consent before sharing HIV status with other clinical services.


Useful links

Nursing & Midwifery Council - Regulation in Practice - Confidentiality

General Medical Council - Good Medical Practice - Confidentiality

HIV Patient Confidentiality