HIV in healthcare

Here you can watch a video that shows how people with HIV are treated in healthcare.

HIV-positive people are commonly refused medical treatment when their infection becomes known. Common reasons for that is the fear of infection on the one hand and the fear of the defamation of their practice on the other. In France the Organization AIDES conducted telephone-tests, after it received complaints. The goal of these tests was to prove whether discrimination in healthcare really occurs. They focused especially on gynecologists and dentists, because most complaints related to these practices.  The testers were calling to arrange appointments for a teeth cleaning or vaginal swab. They were easy treatments so that they did not have to be transferred to specialists.

One third of the doctors denied treatment to HIV-infected people. Refusals were often concealed. The dentists claimed that they did not have the suitable materials, whereas the pathologists that they did not have adequate knowledge of pathology or that the treatment was too risky. In the case of the gynaecologists, 7 out of 116 doctors refused treatment. The survey shows that a lot of doctor’s assistants feel uncomfortable with HIV-infected patients. Some of the testers got an appointment which was later cancelled.

Similar cases also became known in Germany by the press. Frequently the HIV-positive patients are treated when they have an appointment at the end of the office hours. This is justified by a special disinfection that need is supposedly required after that. In health care, HIV-positive people feel discriminated against when their status is openly visibly marked on the patient’s record. Every person who looks at the patient records does so tainted by the knowledge of the HIV-infection.

“I did not know that you have AIDS. I just read it. I cannot provide you further treatment. This is too risky for me. I could injure myself and then I will be also infected with Aids.” (During a treatment at a dentist, source: TAZ)

The study “Positive Voices” shows that medical confidentiality is not always respected. The information about HIV-status of 28% of the women and 17% of the men surveyed was passed to other doctors without the agreement of the patients.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011