HIV/Aids

05 March 2010

HIV tests for all patients

State hospitals will soon offer HIV tests to all their patients, regardless of the nature of their medical problems.

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State hospitals will soon offer HIV tests to all their patients, regardless of the nature of their medical problems.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently sent a letter asking healthcare workers to support this new approach to get as many people as possible to have themselves tested for HIV.

To date, people have only been tested for HIV if they expressly asked for the test.

HIV/Aids experts refer to this as "opt-in" testing.

Many of these experts have argued for years that the approach should rather be "opt-out", which would imply everyone being routinely tested unless they expressly refuse.

With the opt-in approach in place, too few people are having themselves tested. But human rights activists have voiced the fear that "forced" testing would constitute a breach of human rights.

The Department of Health has decided on a compromise, which involves making it part of healthcare workers' routine duties to actively encouraging people to have themselves tested. - (Antoinette Pienaar/Beeld, March 2010)

 

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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