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HIV Positive Doctors: should they still work?
Mar 13, 1997

My name is Tanya and I am a student in hospitality. For one of my classes the students are required to do a debate on Doctors should be able to work in the medical field if they have tested positive for HIV, I am pro for this topic. I need some help with this topic. I at first had mixed emotions. My first reaction was that no they should not be able to work in the medical field. My second reaction way hey do doctors give up on their patients when they find out they're positive? No, doctors don't give up. They put themselves at risk everyday. So why should we give up on them. What I am looking for is just some advice on how to go about this topic. When I do the debate I want I it to be powerful and I want to get across to the audience the seriousness of HIV and the truth that lays behind it. So if you have any advice to give me please do any advice would be appreciated. Thank You Tanya

Response from Rev. Pieters

Why would you worry about a doctor practicing medicine when they are living with HIV? Most doctors today practice "universal precautions" which means they use protective gloves and/or masks and goggles if there's any chance of contacting a patient's blood or other body fluids. But the protection works both ways: the patient will not be able to contract HIV or any other blood-borne disease from an infected doctor if the proper precautions are taken. Learn the facts about HIV transmission and prevention. Given these facts, there is no reason why a doctor who takes normal precautions should not continue to practice medicine when living with HIV. Of course, if the physician becomes too sick or weak to continue working, that is another question. But today, many, many persons living with HIV are living without any symptoms or illness. Why should a doctor with asymptomatic HIV stop practicing medicine? There is no good reason. There are some poor reasons: a community or a hospital might make its decision about a physician based on fear and prejudice, not facts. But any decision based in fear will only perpetuate the prejudice, and will not address the real issues. It is better to educate the community or the hospital about the facts of HIV transmission and prevention than to allow the fear to continue. It is often said that education is the only vaccine we have against HIV now. Education is also the only vaccine we've got now against the fear and prejudice that some people still harbor about persons living with HIV/AIDS. Good luck with your debate! If you're arguing for doctors with HIV continuing to work, you've got the facts on your side. You might also want to address this question to the Dr. Joel Gallant who writes online here for The Body.



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