HIV Screening and Ethics
Screening for HIV offers an excellent opportunity for identifying whether an individual is infected, and also for the provision of timely medical care and to slow the progression of the virus. However, the process of screening may raise many difficult ethical and legal questions with respect to access, reporting and testing. The patients’ privacy rights, protection of the innocent parties and treatment needs are treatment aspects that are not always integrated comfortably. This discussion in this essay is intended to offer an opinion whether it should be mandatory for HIV positive patients to provide the information of their current sexual partners to be also screened.
Many partners or contacts of the persons infected with HIV are unaware of their risks. CSAT (1993) indicated that tracing and notifying these individuals gives them an opportunity to receive the much-needed testing and the necessary therapeutic treatments. Moreover, education on preventive risks reduction and counselling can be given to the appropriately. In addition, HIV infection surveillance data, geographic clustering and other available information for the implementation and development of public policies for infection control and prevention.
It is the opinion of this essay that it should be mandatory for HIV positive patients to provide the information of their current sexual partners to be also screened. However, due to ethical and legal reasons, it can done in a way that is legally and ethically right. The states or the country’s public health statutes can be amended to authorize contact tracing of HIV. However, it will need informed consent of the patient who has tested positively. Moreover, when notifying the partner by a person other than the patient, it should be done without revealing the patient’s identity (CSAT, 1993).
While the partner may infer the name as much as it will not be revealed to the healthcare workers, this may place the patient under treatment at risk other negative consequences of abandonment or physical abuse. Therefore, treatment providers would be careful in protecting the confidentiality of the patient when counselling, assisting, and when performing contact tracing and partner notification (CSAT, 1993).
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (U.S.). (1993). Treatment improvement protocol series. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64720/