HHS Dismisses AHF Complaint, Closes AIM Investigation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the main group attempting to force adult performers to use condoms and dental dams (and possibly goggles) in every sex scene, has just been handed a setback by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has ruled that its Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has no jurisdiction over AHF's complaint that AIM Healthcare Foundation had violated performers' rights in asking them to sign a voluntary waiver of medical privacy over their AIM test results.

"On February 24, 2010, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), redceived your complaint alleging a violation of the Federal Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information and/or the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information (45 C.F.R. Parts 160 and 164, Subparts A, C, and E, the Privacy and Security Rules)," Michael Kruley, Regional Manager for HHS-OCR's San Francisco office. "Specifically, you allege that the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (AIMHF) is using an authorization to release test results which has not met the Privacy Rule requirements. Your violation could reflect a violation of the rules for uses of authorizations to disclose protected health information at 45 C.F.R. §164.508."

Trouble was, AHF had complained to the wrong entity—though it's unclear if there is a correct entity within HHS to which to complain.

"During our initial investigation of your complaint, we determined that OCR does not have authority to investigate your complaint, and therefore, is closing the matter," Kruley ruled. "The Privacy and Security Rules apply to covered entities, which include only: (a) a health care clearinghouse; (b) a health plan; or (c) a health care provider which transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction for which HHS has adopted standards. AIMHF is a healthcare provider but does not transmit any health information in electronic form for any of the designated transactions and therefore does not meet the definition of a covered entity. Therefore, the requirements of the Privacy and Security Rules do not apply to AIMHF."

The ruling is a victory—albeit possibly a fleeting one— for AIM, which has been under attack for more than a year by AHF, which has made complaints about AIM's testing and medical confidentiality protocols to several state and federal government agencies. However, it is likely that AHF will attempt to refile its complaint with another agency within HHS, even though the AIM medical confidentiality information release which it referenced in its February 24, 2010 letter to HHS was completely outdated, according to AIM Clinic Administrator Jennifer Miller, and its current release is completely compliant with all state and federal medical privacy requirements.

Terming it, in an email, a "victory" for the adult industry, Miller was unavailable for further comment at press time, but the closing of yet another unsubstantiated AHF complaint can only be considered a positive result for the adult entertainment industry.

(Photo: Dr. Sharon Mitchell, left; Jennifer Miller aka former performer Brooke Hunter, right)