Medical confidentiality and HIV/AIDS. Ethical-legal perspective.

Maria do Céu Rueff

Abstract


This paper deals with the cross-fire between the crimes, respectively, of violation of the professional confidentiality and of transmission of infection disease, by omission, under the Portuguese legal framework, in the case of HIV/AIDS. The conflict of interests and duties for the practitioner, and the difficulty of solving it. Shall the practitioner speak, or shall he/she keep silence when the HIV/AIDS patient refuses to say the truth to his/her sexual partner, with the consequent risk of transmission of infection disease? The point of view of the Human rights. The position of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and of the European Union (EU) in the fight against the discrimination of people affected by HIV/AIDS. The statements of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) concerning the right to privacy and to non-discrimination (even for illness). Possibility of confrontation with the positions represented by: a) the opinion of the National Council of Ethics for the Sciences of Life (CNECV), of 23rd October 2000, required by the Order of the Practitioners; b) the opinion of the Portuguese legal experts; c) the Criminal Law and the Procedural Criminal Law; d) the cases of the English jurisprudence (High Courts). The ethics of responsibility, the crossing of the traditional principles of medicine, bioethics and law, as well as the reinforcing of the medical deontology and the implementing of a deontology of the patient as possible ways to be considered in order to find answers for the problems.

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