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Hepatitis and HIV CoinfectionHepatitis and HIV Coinfection
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Nov 3, 2003

Dear Dr,

My brother has recently passed away and I was notified by the coroner that he suffered from HIV & Hep "C". I went through his belongings to find that he has been suffering from HIV for the past 6 years and Hep "C" for the past three years. Back in March this year he was admitted to hospital for a Haemorrhoid procedure and my mother was noted as the sole carer for my brother. At no point in time was she ever informed by the treating Dr, of his illness in order to still care for her son but also to protect herself. Is this right?

Response from Dr. Dieterich

A doctor has a duty to his or her patient to keep things confidential as does a clergyman. The patient has a duty to tell people who care for them what the risks may be. The risks fortunately are very low. Both diseases are transmitted by blood to blood contact so the risk is low. However unless there is an immediate threat to anothers life or health, the doctor must keep the patients confidentiality unless the patient waives that right. Your brother should have been the one to tell your mother what the risks were. I am sorry for your loss, but thank you for your thoughtful question. DTD

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