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September 1989

Preoperative Screening for HIV Infection: A Balanced View for the Practicing Surgeon

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine (Dr Fournier), and the Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery (Dr Zeppa), University of Miami (Fla) School of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1989;124(9):1038-1040. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1989.01410090044009

• Routine preoperative screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is becoming increasingly prevalent. Reasons in favor of routine screening include the following: (1) Knowledge of HIV status may allow the surgeon to decrease risk of infection. (2) The patient may benefit, because HIV infection may alter the risk-benefit ratio of a procedure. (3) Knowledge of HIV status will not affect how the patient is treated. Arguments against routine screening include the following: (1) Since the risk during individual procedures is low, it is unlikely that knowledge of HIV status can actually reduce risk. (2) Patient care may be negatively affected. (3) There is a possibility of false-positive results. (4) The accepted ethical standards of autonomy, confidentiality, and informed consent are not always adhered to. We explore these issues in detail. Recent work has framed the risk of surgeons and defined the reliability of diagnostic screening tests. All of these factors must be weighed before a surgeon can decide for or against a policy of routine preoperative screening.

(Arch Surg. 1989;124:1038-1040)

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