HIV Antibody Testing: Summary of BMA Guidance
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1987 Oct 10; 295(6603): 940.
The 1987 annual representative meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) passed a motion stating that "testing for HIV antibodies should be at the discretion of the patient's doctor, and should not necessarily require the consent of the patient." Concerned that such a policy might subject doctors to criminal or civil action or to complaints of medical misconduct, the BMA sought guidance from legal counsel concerning the need for consent by patients to taking samples for investigation in the doctor's office. The guidance summarized here advises that, except in emergency situations, the carrying out of an HIV antibody test requires the informed consent of the patient, based on full disclosure of what the doctor intends to do. The doctrine of implied consent is not likely to be held to cover testing for HIV antibody. Practitioners concerned about the risk of AIDS infection should treat any patient who refuses to give consent as if the patient were infected. (KIE abstract)