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This article addresses why patients and health care professionals (HCPs) with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) should have autonomy and privacy rights to choose whether to consent to an HIV test and to disclose their serologic status. It also demonstrates that the risk of HIV transmission in health care settings is exceedingly low, that it is probably lower than other well-accepted risks taken by patients and professionals, and that there are other less intrusive ways to further reduce the risk. The article concludes that knowledge of a patient's serologic status is unlikely to reduce risk, since no effective action could be taken with the information. Balanced against the negligible public health benefit of a right to know are significant personal, financial, and social costs of screening programs.

Publication Citation

48 Md. L. Rev. 12-54 (1989)