The rights of HIV infected healthcare workers

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7047.1625 (Published 29 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1625
  1. Peter Erridge
  1. Director Special Needs Clinic, Department of Sedation and Special Care Dentistry, Guy's Dental Hospital, London SE1 9RT

    Ignoring them may put the public at greater risk

    Until the advent of antibiotics, health care workers have always been at significant risk of serious harm from the diseases they seek to treat. Their situation has often been known to colleagues and attracted sympathy, even from the media. However infection with HIV is quite different.

    In this issue, Sandy Logie, a doctor who contracted HIV while working in Africa, writes of his personal dilemma about the inability to share his problem with colleagues and others (p 1679).1 A decade ago HIV was associated with drugs, homosexuality, and death within about four years, and we knew little about transmission in the healthcare setting. The scene has changed greatly; attitudes have not.

    Respect for human rights is at the heart of the debate about HIV. In accordance with the principle of “do no harm,” this debate has been biased in favour of patients, and infected healthcare workers have received little support from the profession and the media.

    Britain's Department of Health has issued guidelines on managing infected healthcare workers2 and on notifying patients who may have been …

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