Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

AIDS & Entrepreneurs

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

AIDS & Entrepreneurs

Article excerpt

Recent moves in Congress and the Centers for Disease Control to pressure HIV-infected health care workers either to restrict their practice to noninvasive procedures or to disclose their status to patients may be backfiring. The Medical Expertise Retention Program, a San Francisco advocacy group for HIV-infected doctors, recently conducted a twenty-nine-state poll of 196 doctors, nurses, and dental workers who were either known to be HIV-positive or who were at high risk, to determine their attitudes toward the new federal guidelines and proposed practice limitations. The results are disturbing.

Fifty-five percent of those polled worried that restricting their practices would give patients good grounds to suspect they were infected and sue them. Of those who knew they were infected, 67 percent said they avoided seeking treatment or submitting insurance claims through their place of employment because they feared job discrimination and loss of privacy.

Most telling of all, perhaps, was that 57 percent of those who did not know for sure whether they were infected expressed reluctance to be tested, preferring uncertainty to knowledge that could cost them their jobs. If the survey reflects widespread attitudes, it would seem that the federal policies are having the reverse effect from what was intended, and that they actually discourage health care workers from being tested and from limiting their practice in ways that reduce risk of transmission. …

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