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April 1991

The HIV-Infected Health Care ProfessionalPublic Policy, Discrimination, and Patient Safety

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(4):663-665. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400040017005

I propose a compromise position whereby human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected professionals ought to refrain from the practice of seriously invasive procedures, but they should not be subject to mandatory screening. At the core of my argument is a common-sense, patient-oriented approach. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (Atlanta, Ga) has long advocated, quite correctly, that restrictions on the rights of persons infected with HIV are not justified in employment, education, and housing because the mode of transmission of HIV is sexual or blood-borne and not casual. The CDC, then, could not reasonably sustain a public position favoring the continuance of seriously invasive procedures by infected professionals—health care professionals whose hands are immersed in a body cavity, using a sharp implement with demonstrable epidemiologic evidence of a high rate of torn gloves and cut hands. I suggest five separate questions that need to be asked for a rational resolution of this

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