Wednesday, 25 April 2012

HIV Testing Without Consent

I’ve always been against the government protecting people from themselves. However, I definitely think that part of the government’s job is to protect its citizens from others who are attempting to harm them. So when I read this article about a new bill in Indiana that would allow doctors to test someone for HIV without their consent or knowledge, I wasn’t quite sure what to think at first.

On the one hand it’s a major violation of privacy; it doesn’t get much more personal or private than a person’s blood. A person should have complete control over their body, including what tests are performed on their blood. On the other hand, the CDC estimates that nearly 1 in 5 people who are infected with HIV don’t know. If everyone were tested, then at least people wouldn’t unknowingly transmit the virus.

I think there is perhaps a better way to ensure that more people are tested for HIV that doesn’t result in violating a person’s privacy. At the moment, a lot of testing for HIV and other STIs is done in special clinics. What’s more, there is still a great deal of shame associated with having an STI, especially HIV. Instead of testing someone for HIV without their consent, I think we should be focused on normalizing getting tested.
Imagine if the blood work for a routine physical included testing for HIV and other STIs. You go in, they draw blood, and along with testing your cholesterol and blood sugar, they also test for STIs. That is what I think we should be working toward and if anything, what Indiana is doing could potentially make getting tested for HIV even less normalized and more frightening.

This was originally posted at The Good Men Project.

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