Yes, under certain circumstances, enumerated in RI ST 23-6.3-4, Rhode Island law permits, but does not require, a physician or other health care provider to perform an HIV test without the consent of the subject.
Rhode Island law permits the involuntary HIV testing of:
- Any person under one year of age;
- Any person between one and thirteen years of age who “appears to be symptomatic for HIV”;
- Any person under the age of eighteen who is “under the care and authority of the department of children, youth, and families, and the director of that department certifies that an HIV test is necessary to secure health or human services for that individual.”
B) Occupational Exposure in a Health Care Facility
Rhode Island law permits involuntary testing in the event of an exposure to a health care provider in a licensed health care facility or private physician’s office, if:
- a sample of the patient’s blood is available and an occupational health representative or physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or nurse-midwife not directly involved in the exposure determines that a health care worker had a significant exposure to the blood or bodily fluids of a patient; and
- the patient refuses to grant consent for an HIV test. The health care worker must have a baseline HIV test within seventy-two hours of exposure before the patient’s blood can be tested.
If a sample of the patient’s blood is not available and the patient refuses to consent to an HIV test, the health care worker may petition the Superior Court for an order mandating an HIV test.
An involuntary HIV test is permitted “in an emergency, where due to a grave medical or psychiatric condition, it is impossible to obtain consent from either the patient, or the patient’s parent, guardian, or agent.” This exception appears by its language to be limited to circumstances in which an HIV test is deemed necessary for the patient’s health.