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Is it ethical to disclose HIV/AIDS patient records?

HIV/AIDS is one of the most dangerous diseases that the world is facing. It started from one person then transmitted to several people. From societies to nations and with globalization it has been transmitted all over the world. With current medication the HIV/AIDS patient undergoes, it is not easy to identify who is infected and who is not. The medication has hidden the symptoms. Therefore, this kind of situation some people said that it is better to disclose their status to the public so that people will know those who are infected. I completely disagree with this idea because three parties will be affected. These are: The HIV victim, his or her family and the society.

When you disclose the patient record, the society will abandon him or her. People will avoid him or her since they have the misconception that when they are near them, they will be infected with HIV/ADIS. People will abandon him or her. No one will ready to interact with him .His friends from work and home will find it difficult to engage with him in any activity. Someone who was interacting with different people now becomes lonely which can affect the society.  He can become a criminal by infecting others, stealing or killing himself. When someone gets the results and found that he is HIV+, he is normally in a state of shock.

In order to make him calm, you should give him advice and not disclose his records. Mateeso Moova who is a Tanzanian, says in his story that he sees people dying of AIDS. This is because of too many suicide committed by the victims.[Source : http://www.guide4living.com/hiv-aids/mateso.htm] . Infected members of the family can find themselves stigmatized and discriminated against within the home like an Indian lady who is HIV positive says that her mother-in-law has kept everything separate from her. The utensil she is using is different from the one her mother-in-law and her family is using. She says that they never discriminated her before meaning before she was infected. But now, things have changed and she feels discriminated.[Source:http://www.heartintl.net/HEART/Stigma/Comp/SocialstigmaoHIVAIDS.htm] .According to the stories above, those infected need consultation and not exposure. Exposing them to the public will make their lives miserable

Disclosing it will also affect their families. When we talk about families, we connect with cultures. Some cultures find it a shame when someone is infected. One person infected in the family contributes to the neglecting of the whole family. Cultures will be judging the family as filthy people. Extended families will decide not to recognize the nuclear family because they do not want to be ashamed. Especially Arab societies they find it extremely a shame when their relative is infected.

Disclosing will also affect the individual to the society. At workplace, people around him will discriminate him. He might be pressured to leave the job or due to being teased he might opt to leave the job. In America, a lot of cases have been handled in court because of job discrimination. The lawyers accept that it is illegal to dismiss workers who have developed AIDS. [Source:http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/15/business/business-and-the-law-aids-and-job-discrimination.html] According to the source, disclosing will lead to job discrimination. Not only will the individual be affected but the society too. Certain tribes will be a shamed because their member is affected. This mainly happens with Arabs and Africans.

Disclosing the patient records will be against Medical ethics. According to AMA’S code of Medical ethics states that the information disclosed to a physician during the course of the patient-physician relationship is confidential to the utmost degree. The purpose of a physician’s ethical duty to maintain patient confidentiality is to allow the patient to feel free to make a full and frank disclosure of information to the physician with the knowledge that the physician will protect the confidential nature of the information disclosed.[Source: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/legal-topics/patient-physician-relationship-topics/patient-confidentiality.page]. By disclosing you will go against human rights. According to BBC News, a hospital worker contacted the BBC to complain that a bag full of confidential patients’ records was dumped in a corridor for days at Wales’ biggest hospital. A hospital spokesman said the matter was being taken seriously and an investigation was underway. This shows that revealing or exposing patients’ records is a serious issue and against law. It is considered breaking the confidentiality and trust.

To sum up, it is clear that disclosing patient records is against Medical ethics. This shows that no country does so and if there is then against the law like Wales hospital doing investigation on who threw the records on public corridor. Disclosing the records will expose someone’s status which will to the consequences mentioned above like committing suicide, being discriminated and becoming a criminal. The victims need guidance and not exposure. They need consultation and not discrimination.

References

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