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HIV-positive status among surgeons - an ethical dilemma

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Abstract:

HIV / AIDS is a manageable disease with a reasonable expectation that affected individuals might be able to experience both reduced mortality and morbidity. Within the socio-political context of the illness there has been a very strong emphasis on human rights issues, especially in relation to discrimination, which has seemingly been influenced more by emotion than science. This article explores and addresses the potential risk of an HIV-positive surgeon transmitting the virus to a patient. We argue that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) guidelines are too restrictive, especially against a background of limited transmission risk, and hence that these guidelines could be more harmful than beneficial to our health systems. South African Medical Journal Vol. 96 (10) October 2006: 1072-1075

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