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13.0229 Counseling and referral services program.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 13.0229]

(a) The director may establish voluntary, confidential programs for counseling and referral services (CRS). These services shall be available and easily accessible to all individuals with, or possibly exposed to, a contagious disease as determined by the director.

(b) If the director establishes a CRS, then the department shall follow the following guidelines for a counseling and referral services program:

(1) All information disclosed to a CRS counselor or health care provider in the context of CRS is confidential. Contact names or contact data may be used only for purposes of surveillance, epidemiologic investigation, diagnosis, treatment, and notification by the department.

(2) Any individual with a contagious disease who voluntarily participates in a CRS program shall be notified that any identified contacts may be informed of their potential exposure to the contagious disease.

(3) A CRS counselor may notify a contact after obtaining the informed consent of the individual with the contagious disease who voluntarily provided the contact’s name, unless:

(A) The CRS counselor reasonably believes that the individual does not plan to notify known contacts, whereby the counselor may notify those contacts without individual informed consent; or

(B) The CRS counselor reasonably believes that the individual is at a significant risk of harm should notification be made to the contact.

(4) Any disclosure of information about exposure to a contagious disease to a contact by the CRS counselor shall be made in person (where possible and in a manner that attempts to protect the privacy of the individual with the contagious disease as well as the contact. A CRS counselor may not disclose, for example:

(A) The name or other identifying information of the individual who gave the contact’s name; or

(B) The date or period of the contact’s exposure.

(5) A CRS program shall provide counseling, testing, diagnosis, treatment, or referral services to an individual with a contagious disease regardless of whether the individual discloses the names of any contacts.

(6) Where not otherwise notified, CRS counselors shall inform any contact of the:

(A) Nature of the contagious diseases;

(B) Methods of transmission and prevention of the diseases;

(C) Location information for testing or treatment sites (where available); and

(D) Existence of local support groups, mental health services, and medical facilities.

(7) If an individual with a contagious disease chooses to notify a contact, he or she should be encouraged to provide the same information as stated above, and be provided counseling. The CRS counselor should use reasonable efforts to verify that the contact was actually notified.

(c) A CRS program shall routinely train and evaluate the performance of counselors and other program personnel to ensure that high quality services are being provided.

History: 2007, PL 30-11.