A South African newpaper reported on Saturday that more than 50 physicians
are accused of testing people for HIV without their knowledge or consent--and then passing on the result to the patients' employer.
The University of Witwatersrand's AIDS Law Project has filed
complaints against the doctors with the Health Practitioners
Association of South Africa. The tests were performed at the
request of the patients' employers, the Saturday Star newspaper
Most patients did not receive counseling before or after the
test, the group said, adding that in some cases, test results were
sent directly to the employer and the patient was not informed
about the result.
A positive result meant almost certain dismissal, the group
said. In a fifth of the cases, the employee was a domestic worker.
"It's nothing less than total discrimination,$quot; said Jennifer
Joni, an attorney with the project. "The doctor is not concerned
with the well-being of the patient, just the continued loyalty of
the employer who wants to know if their employee is HIV positive."
According to the Health Practitioners Association's rules, HIV
tests can be performed without a patient's consent only if a health
professional has been exposed to infection by a needle-stick
Physicians in violation of the association's rules face a
warning, reprimand, a fine of less than $1,450, and suspension or
removal from the medical register.
About 4.2 million South Africans--roughly 10 percent of the
population--are HIV positive.