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what should a poz doc do ?
Sep 5, 2013

hello nelson, thanks for your wonderful attempt to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide through this forum. i know doctors who have been infected with hepatitis C / HIV as an occupational hazard while working in extremely busy trauma/accident emergencies. Q1) is it possible for such HIV poz doctor to work in an ICU set up where deadly bugs are highly prevalent? what is your suggestion? Q2) if such doctors (i am basically from India), want to work for HIV / Hepa C care / trauma accident management in countries like south africa/ zimbabwe/ thailand/ philipines/ brazil etc (or any other international places) what is the best possible protocol to achieve this goal? (for example, joining WHO for this purpose?). can WHO/UNICEF help such doctors to relocate to the aforesaid regions from India? is an indian medical licence allowed in those counties mentioned? Q3) what is your general suggestion (in a broad perspective) for such doctors for maintaining good health even when working in an infectious set up? are you optimistic about such doctors' bright future? Q4) can u suggest link to any community forum created only for seropositive doctors? if not present, do you think such a forum should be created to help poz docs at the international level maintaining extreme confidentiality? thanks and regards.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

It's generally acceptable for positive healthcare providers to continue working in their fields. Indeed, I know of many. Their employment, is subject to local statutes, and some municipalities do limit the ability of positive providers to do invasive procedures (such as surgery).

As for personal risk, if the positive physician is on therapy, has a normal-range CD4 cell count, and takes the usual universal precautions, I wouldn't think that the risk of hospital-acquired infections to be significant. There might be some exceptions, particularly for health care providers whose immune function was impaired and the risk of infection was higher, such as patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis.

So, in the end, the most important thing is having good health (for both the provider and patient), but with regard to provider health, to be on ART, adherent, and having a healthy immune system. Then, one's risk is approximately that of a provider without HIV infection.

I'm intrigued by your last question-- namely a forum for positive healthcare providers. You're right that confidentiality would be very important, given the risk of involuntary disclosure and possible work-related consequences. What do other readers think about this?

I hope that helps and feel free to write back. BY



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