April 30, 2003
A British Columbia advocacy group is concerned that a new HIV reporting law could make people apprehensive about getting tested. Beginning May 1, the law requires that public health officials be notified when a person tests positive for HIV, but it does not require a patient to divulge sexual partners or force a person to notify others of a positive test. Public health nurses will not know the name of the patient, just the name of his or her doctor. "Some may interpret it as mandatory, others may interpret it as voluntary," said Paul Legace, of the Red River HIV/AIDS Network. The law specifically requires a patient's consent because health authorities do not want to deter people from testing, said Tim Christie, an ethicist for the Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS and co-author of a reportability study in British Columbia. "This is not an adversarial, us-and-them approach," said Christie. "Patients always have a choice." British Columbia is the last province in Canada to require HIV reporting.
04.28.03; Robert Koopmans