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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law

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Mandatory HIV testing as a prerequisite for surgical procedures: Perspectives on rights and ethics

B.N. Joseph, A.M. Jamil, B.M. Aya, A.I. Yahya, D.A. Dangiwa, D.N. Jangkam, M.L.P. Dapar

Abstract


Background. Undergoing mandatory HIV testing as a criterion for a surgical or invasive procedure is illegal in Nigeria, and unethical. This includes requesting an HIV test without the consent of the client, and the disclosure of the test results.

Objectives. To assess the practice of mandatory HIV testing among health practitioners, and to examine HIV testing without consent, and the disclosure of test results to the patient.

Methods. This was a cross-sectional survey of both medical doctors and nurses with surgical skills. We used convenience sampling to select respondents from Jos University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria and Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, Nigeria. A total of 99 respondents filled and returned a questionnaire. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 20 was used to manage the data, and the results were presented using descriptive statistics.

Results. Over one-third (34.3%) of the respondents reported that they would insist on seeing an HIV test result before performing a surgical or invasive procedure; meanwhile, 4 (4%) of the respondents had refused to render surgical or invasive intervention to HIV clients, while (3%) admitted having refused surgical procedures to patients who refused to take an HIV test. The majority of the respondents (79; 79.8%) reported that the basic equipment and consumables needed for universal precautions were either not available or grossly inadequate.

Conclusion. Requests for patients to take an HIV test before surgical procedures are frequent; however, only a few respondents had ever refused to provide a surgical intervention on the basis of a patient’s HIV-positive status. Equipment and consumables necessary for universal precautions were either not available or grossly inadequate in the surveyed hospitals.




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