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Kaohsiung hospital fined for HIV test sans consent

TAIPEI -- The Kaohsiung City Government has fined a hospital affiliated with Kaohsiung Medical University NT$30,000 (US$1,000) for testing a patient for HIV without his consent in violation of existing regulations, an HIV patients rights' advocate said Tuesday.

Lin Yi-hui, secretary-general of the Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan, said that a man, identified only by his surname Chen, told a doctor he was gay when seeking medical attention at the hospital earlier this year.

The doctor then insisted that Chen be tested for HIV or he would not operate on the patient. Although Chen signed a letter of consent at that time, he changed hospitals because he was unhappy that he was discriminated against.

Chen returned to the Kaohsiung hospital, however, to be treated for another ailment, and the hospital then tested him for HIV without his knowledge or asking him again for his consent.

Lin said the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act stipulates that medical specialists can only take blood samples for HIV testing after obtaining a patient's consent.

The city's Department of Health decided in April after an investigation that the hospital breached the regulations and should pay a fine of NT$30,000.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen hsiang said, meanwhile, that the CDC respected the Kaohsiung City government's decision and agreed that patients must give their consent to HIV testing and be told the reason for the test to protect their rights.

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