n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - Informed consent and HIV : a review of the topic with reference to the particular problems posed by the HIV pandemic : legal and ethical issues




The above statement would seem to be a fairly uncontroversial one. Few health care professionals would argue with the need to obtain informed consent before intervening in any patient's life. The extent and meaning of the terms 'informed', and 'consent', however, cause significant debate. This paper will address a concept and definition of informed consent, and illustrate that schema with particular aspects of HIV-related problems in the application of the principle in day-to-day clinical practice. It is hoped that the arguments presented will alter the perception of informed consent as being a signature on a piece of paper legally indemnifying the professional from litigation, to one of a dynamic process vital in the strengthening of the ongoing doctor-patient relationship. Further, it should be seen as one of the tools for the breaking down of the terrible secrecy that surrounds this illness, and which hampers the effective use of available methodologies for prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.


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