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Summary: A physician discusses his experience with patients who do not disclose their HIV statuses to their long-term partners. Because physicians are not technically allowed to tell a patient’s partner, they may feel like they are perpetuating dishonesty if a patient feigns surprise at an HIV positive status when his/her partner is present. The writer asks if she is part of the problem. Would she risk her credibility as a doctor by being “dishonest?” And “should there be consequences for people who don’t tell their partners they have HIV? How do we balance personal responsibility while minimizing stigma and shame?” The writer states that by testing for HIV regularly the way cancer or high cholesterol is tested for, HIV/AIDS can be seen as a long-term treatable condition, can be less stigmatized, and therefore, can facilitate disclosure. This is a very important issue as “20% of people with HIV are unaware that they are infected.”

Think About:

1. Are the doctors who don’t disclose a patient’s HIV status dishonest?
2. What role does HIPAA play and should it be changed?
3. Should their be punishments for not disclosing one’s HIV status?
4. What would you do if you were a doctor? What would you want your doctor to do if you were either the patient who was HIV+ or at risk for being infected with HIV because of a dishonest partner?

Original Article, For More Information (stories of the doctor’s experiences):