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This study explored how healthcare professionals ensure confidentiality for children with HIV, whether these methods comply with the Data Protection Act and the Caldicott principles for confidentiality and whether the methods used enable healthcare professionals to manage disclosure of HIV status outside of the health service.


Nineteen healthcare staff participated in semi-structured interviews that were tape recorded. Data were analysed using the constant comparative method.


The measures that were described appeared to be consistent with data protection principles. A minority suggested that the correct processes were not always adhered to. A prominent theme was uncertainty about disclosure, particularly in relation to whether schools should be informed about the status of children with HIV. Effective communication among healthcare professionals appeared to be a significant factor in minimising the risk of breaches in confidentiality.


Families can be reassured that confidentiality is being maintained within the organisation where this study was conducted. However the risk of inappropriate disclosure remains high, indicating that staff should not be complacent about this area of their practice.

Janice Mighten reports on a study into ways health professionals maintain confidentiality for children and young people with HIV and their families

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