“We know that people living with HIV, who are compliant with their treatment, and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus on to someone else.”
In an unprecedented situation for an Irish court, the High Court was recently tasked with deciding whether a doctor can disclose the HIV status of a patient, without their consent, to another person who the doctor believes is having unprotected sex with the patient. The case, involving a teenager in care who has been living with HIV since birth, and another unnamed teenager, was brought by the Child & Family Agency.
The court concluded the extremely low possibility (0.04%) of HIV being transmitted in this case, and the fact that HIV is not a terminal illness did not justify a breach of patient confidentiality, a cornerstone of the doctor/patient relationship.
Responding to the decision of the High Court, Mr Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland said: “We welcome this decision of the High Court not to force a teenager living with HIV to disclose his status against his will.
“HIV is a manageable, treatable illness. We know that people living with HIV, who are compliant with their treatment, and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus on to someone else.”
Mulligan also pointed out the crucial importance in highlighting the need for policymakers, politicians, and the public to understand the impact HIV-related stigma has on the lives of people living with HIV.
Referencing HIV Irelands National HIV & Stigma Survey 2017, Mulligan said: “When 17% of people living with HIV report having felt suicidal in 2017, it’s time to open our eyes to the damage that HIV related stigma is having on people’s lives.”
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