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The Ethicist is a Pinhead

So have you read the idiotic column in the New York Times by the self-appointed “Ethicist,” Randy Cohen? This chowderhead seems to be operating on pre-1983 knowledge of HIV. In his March 25, 2009 column, he addresses this antediluvian question: does a person with HIV have an ethical duty to disclose his HIV status to his roommates? Of course, anyone with half a brain, as well as basic knowledge of HIV transmission, knows that the answer is obvious: if he plans to have sex with his roommates, or share needles with them, then he’s got an ethical (and legal) duty to disclose first. Otherwise, his roommates have no more need to know his HIV status than his cholesterol level. But rather than base his column on the obvious fact that never in the nearly 30-year history of the epidemic...

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If You Talk, You Pay

Remember the case of the loose-lipped phlebotomist? It has a happy ending. A few months ago we told you about Leonard, who got his blood drawn at a suburban hospital. He started chatting with the phlebotomist, and it turned out that her nephew worked in the same store as Leonard. A few weeks later, everyone in that store was talking about Leonard’s HIV status. It looked to us like the phlebotomist blabbed about Leonard’s HIV status to her nephew, who then blabbed to co-workers. You can read the original post here. We confirmed our suspicions by talking to the assistant manager at Leonard’s store, who told us that the nephew had indeed disclosed Leonard’s HIV status. And obviously, he could only have learned about it from his aunt. When we first contacted the attorney for the hospital, she said...

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Give Blood

Here’s an infuriating case we got just this week. Our client — whom I’ll call Leonard — goes to a lab every 3 or 4 months so that his doctor can check his CD4 count and viral load. Last month he met with a new phlebotomist at the lab. The two of them got to chatting, and it turned out that the phlebotomist’s nephew Adrian works in the same store as Leonard. In fact, Leonard is Adrian’s boss. Fast forward a few weeks: Leonard’s assistant manager takes him aside at work and tells him there are rumors running around the store that he is HIV positive. When confronted about the rumor, Adrian says, “Who told you? Now my aunt is going to lose her job!” Leonard did the smart thing. He talked to all of the employees in the...

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