Confidentiality & How Your Information is Protected
Any information shared with a health care provider is confidential, including test results. When you go for STI testing, you may be asked for personal information such as your name, birth date, Medical Services Plan (BC Care Card) number, contact information (like phone number, address and email) and health history. This information is used to give the best health care, order tests and to contact you about the results.
All the health authorities in BC and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) are governed by privacy laws. Privacy and data security are important and are taken very seriously. Personal information is kept secure and is not accessible to the public. For more information, please see the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of BC.
Where is STI Testing Information Stored?
All test results: Any electronic or paper records of negative and positive test results are kept at your health care provider’s office.
Information about lab tests is routinely stored in laboratory databases where the specimens are process or tested. In BC, lab results are also kept in a provincial laboratory system called the Provincial Laboratory Information System (PLIS). The purpose of this electronic health (e-health) record is so that your health care provider will be able to see relevant parts of your health care record.
For more information about e-health systems in BC including PLIS, and more options for controlling access to your health information in these systems, please visit eHealth, Ministry of Health.
Positive test results: In BC, the Communicable Disease Regulation of the Public Health Act legally requires a lab and/or a physician to report any case of infectious disease, including some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), to the Medical Health Officer (MHO) of the appropriate health authority. This reporting is done so that public health nurses can offer support to a person with a new diagnosis, ensure the notification and testing of partners and monitor the number of new infections. These results are kept in provincial and regional health authority electronic information systems.
In BC, STIs that must be reported include:
- Hepatitis A, B and C
Within these databases, access to information is based on the health care provider’s role and whether they need the information in order to provide care or to carry out their legislated functions under the Public Health Act.
Contacting Partners about Testing
If you have a reportable STI, your health care provider will talk with you about how you want to tell your sexual partners. The purpose is to get people tested and treated and to stop the STI from being passed on to other partners.
Youth and Confidentiality
If you are under the age of 19, you can get confidential health care if a health care provider considers you old enough to make your own decisions about your health. This means your health care provider must keep your information private. They cannot contact your parents or guardians without your permission.
There are some exceptions to confidentiality for youth. If you, or any other youth under 19, are being harmed or are at risk of harm, the health care provider is required by law to report it to the proper authorities. This law is meant to help keep youth and children safe from abuse.
Many youth choose to go to youth clinics. These clinics offer free STI testing to youth – many youth clinics service people under the age of 24, but call the youth clinic nearest to you to find out the age cut-off.