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Human Rights Violation?

2009 March 6
by Cat Durante

So I was visiting my best friend in philly yesterday and I of course cannot help but talk about this class to her. She actually loves contributing to the ideas I’ve shared to her about the class and I’ve encouraged her to come to the site and comment on some of the posts. Anyway, I couldn’t help but mention Johnathan’s very educated and poised statements about bugchasing. She had never heard of the group before and we then continued to have quite a heated debate about the subject. She then told me something I had never heard before: One of our friends is a second year med school student. My friend told me that she had asked her if she was scared at all going out into ambulances and on accident sites and possibly contracting HIV. She said that of course she was scared but there was something else she was even more concerned with. According to state law, if a victim at an accident site chooses to tell one EMT that he or she is HIV positive, then that EMT is forbidden to disclose that information to the other EMTs on site. They should keep that information to themselves and treat the patient no differently than any non-inflicted patient but engage in movements that hopefully the other EMTs will “pick up” and realize from to indicate that the patient is HIV positive without explicitly saying the words.

Now, I thought this law to be a conflict of interest. I understand that this information is private and that the victim has a right to keep these facts away from public ears. But if another life is in danger of being harmed, shouldn’t the victim be obligated to tell the EMTs or better yet, the EMT that knows this information be able to tell the other EMTs treating the patient that he or she has the disease? I’m not trying to be insensitive here. I happen to know a handful of people that are HIV positive and I have yet to ask them this question. In the context of the class, the technology used to treat ths patient will be different from that used for other patients . But in wielding this technology to treat, are the EMTs themselves de-humanizing the patient and withholding that technology that would be most beneficial in order not to be harmed themselves? I’m interested to see where others fall in regards to this law. Also, please understand that I do not wish to offend anyone. I am a humanist and believe that every human life should be saved. I apologize if I have hurt anyone.

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