The HIV Positive Health Care Clinician: Rights, Obligations, and the Academy

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Cohn, Sherman L.
Health Law and Policy
article description
The questions raised by a case of an HIV positive student-clinician in an acupuncture school provide an analytical framework for considering the many conflicts raised by HIV positive health care providers in general. A number of conflicting social values are discussed in the context of federal and Maryland state law. HIV positive people are protected by certain antidiscrimination laws, provided they do not pose a significant risk of transmission. This protection must be balanced against the rights of patients to informed consent, the relative risk of a relatively noninvasive procedure such as acupuncture, and the academic freedom of the school to determine the qualifications of its graduates and the methods by which they are educated. This evaluation and balancing of competing values on a case by case basis provides the most rational and effective policy for dealing with infected providers.