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Back To Vidyya More Than 50 S. African Physicians Accused Of Testing For HIV Without Patient Knowledge Or Consent

Results Are Passed To Patients' Employer

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 reported.

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 injury.

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.


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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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