COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Columbus County is the 11th highest in the state for known HIV cases, but according to some HIV advocates, infected people aren't getting the treatment they need due to privacy concerns.
Two people with the disease reached out to WECT to voice their concerns regarding the privacy issues at the county's health department. They applaud the department for their efforts in regards to HIV treatments, but would like to see more privacy policies implemented.
"You're sitting in there with the WIC people, Planned Parenthood," explained an HIV patient. "I'm 48 years old, you know I'm not here for Planned Parenthood. Plus, everyone knows the third Friday of every month is HIV day."
According to Health Director Kim Smith, the department just hosts the infectious disease clinic and doctors from Wilmington decided to make it the third Friday because it's convenient for them.
Some people believe patients with HIV should be allowed to use a side entrance to extend their privacy, but Smith said it is policy to have everyone come through the front door for security reasons.
"Our employees are trained with privacy laws and they would be let go in a heartbeat," said Smith. "We keep files in a lock and key. Privacy is very important."
Smith said the department is working to get a screen that displays numbers to notify patients when it's their turn to see a doctor instead of having their name or number called.
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