Confidentiality is one of the most significant concepts in health care and nursing practice, particularly in the arena of HIV infection and AIDS. The implications for individuals of deliberate or accidental disclosure of their HIV status can and does have far reaching effects. This paper will explore the concept of confidentiality by discussing the legal and professional issue of confidentiality and AIDS. The nature of the law and guidance by professional bodies allow exceptions to the respect of confidentiality in certain situations. AIDS and the need for confidentiality often is in conflict when public health considerations are deemed to be involved. The law is poorly developed in this area and often professional guidance is less than clear.