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Illinois Court of Appeals Holds HIV Status Disclosure Order Overbroad

On December 31, 1991, an Illinois court of appeals held that a circuit court’s order disclosing HIV status following mandatory HIV testing of a prisoner who had been convicted of illegally possessing a syringe or hypodermic needle was overbroad. The court of appeal also upheld the constitutionality of the mandatory HIV testing statute.

C.S., a prisoner in the Winnebago County jail, pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe and was sentenced to 270 days in the county jail. The trial court ordered her to submit to HIV testing pursuant to the Unified Code of Corrections, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, Ch. 38, par. 1005-5-3(h)), which mandates HIV testing for persons convicted of a number of drug-related offenses, including unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe.

C.S.’s HIV test was positive and the state moved for disclosure of the results, which is permitted at the court’s discretion under section 5-5-3(h). The court ordered the results disclosed to jail, officials, one police supervisor and all attorneys in the criminal division of the Winnebago county State’s Attorney’s Office. C.S. appealed the order both as being over broad and being based upon involuntary HIV testing that violated her constitutional right of privacy.

The court of appeals held that the mandatory HIV testing was narrowly limited to persons convicted of possession of items associated with illegal intravenous drug use. This amounted to limiting it to the users of intravenous drugs. It further held that testing individuals who belong to a high-risk group for contraction of HIV, such as intravenous drug users, in the midst of an AIDS epidemic was a reasonable exercise of the state’s police powers. The state also had a reasonable interest in notifying those persons involved, in the incarceration of HIV-infected prisoners of the potential risks to the jail personnel and the prisoner caused by the infection. Therefore, disclosure to the jail personnel was reasonable. It was also reasonable to disclose the test results to one supervisor of the police who, in light of C.S.’s extensive criminal records, are likely to come into contact with her again. However, it was not reasonable to disclose C.S.’s HIV status to all the state’s attorneys in the county even though they might need to know her HIV status to prosecute potential future cases involving prohibited conducted by a person ‘infected with HIV pursuant to Illinois Rev. Stat., ch. 38, para.
12-16.2(1989). Available in C.S.’s file will be the fact of this conviction and the fact that she was subjected to involuntary HIV testing. Therefore, the state can petition the court to reveal her HIV status in the future should the need arise. Therefore, the order was affirmed as modified. See: Illinois v. C.S., 222 Ill.App.3d 348; 583 N.E.2d 726; 1991 Ill.App.LEXIS 2201; 164 Ill.Dec. 810.

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Related legal case

Illinois v. C.S.