Legal issues on HIV transmission and the law for healthcare workers: draft guidelines online for comment

A new joint guideline from BHIVA and BASHH on legal aspects of HIV transmission and work of the clinical team is now online for comment.

Prosecutions for reckless transmission of HIV have been brought in the UK since 2001 (Scotland) and 2003 (England & Wales).

This has raised complex questions among medical practitioners as to their ethical and legal responsibilities related to HIV transmission, particularly around disclosure of information on HIV status. Although established generic ethical and professional principles continue to apply, certain features of the HIV epidemic have required special consideration.

An underlying principle in the provision of clinical care for people with HIV is the need for a secure and confidential environment in which extremely sensitive matters can be frankly and fully discussed.  The importance of ensuring that full trust is maintained by people with HIV in their clinical services in the light of the introduction of the criminal law into the HIV arena is fundamental, not only for the health of people living with HIV but also for people who may wish to seek information or testing and thus for the wider public health.

This guidance document sets out these responsibilities and how these relate to the roles and responsibilities of health care professionals when caring for individuals infected with HIV.

Comments can be made online and the draft document downloaded from the BHIVA website:

Deadline for comments is Friday 21 May 2010.

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.