AIDS Phobia, Public Health Warnings, and Lawsuits: Deterring Harm or Rewarding Ignorance?
Mariner, Wendy K.
American Journal of Public Health. 1995 Nov; 85(11): 1562-1568.
Courts in more than a dozen states have decided cases in which a person has claimed money damages for his or her fear of getting acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although most courts have rejected such claims in the absence of actual exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), their reasoning has varied slightly from state to state. This article argues that negligence law should not permit people who are HIV negative to recover damages for an unfounded fear of AIDS. Public health statements intended to educate the public about preventing HIV transmission may have encouraged some fear-of-AIDS lawsuits against health care practitioners. Although well intentioned, such statements have been used to justify inappropriate restrictions on medical practice and disclosure of a practitioner's HIV status. To avoid such misuse, such statements should be revised to make clear that the way in which procedures are performed, not who performs them, determines HIV transmission.
Aids; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; Compensation; Contact Tracing; Consent; Dentistry; Disclosure; Disease; Duty to Warn; Discrimination; Guidelines; Harm; Health; Health Care; Health Facilities; Health Personnel; HIV Seropositivity; Iatrogenic Disease; Informed Consent; Injuries; Institutional Policies; Judicial Action; Law; Legal Liability; Liability; Negligence; Organizations; Patients; Physicians; Professional Organizations; Psychological Stress; Public Health; Risk; Surgery; Torts;
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