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HIV Patients' Confidentiality Concerns
Durham, N.C. - According to new findings from Duke University, many HIV-positive patients from rural areas choose not to be treated because of the risk that their condition will become public. Patients say they travel to more distant medical centers -- and some avoid treatment altogether -- because health providers have shared their medical information without their knowledge. Kate Whetten-Goldstein, assistant professor for public policy in community and family medicine, says these breaches of confidentiality can have disastrous consequences for patients, like the woman whose nurse told her child about the woman's HIV status, only to have the child tell his classmates.
"The entire school learned of her HIV status before her child knew. And the woman ended up changing counties, rather than living there with the stigma of HIV."
Whetten Goldstein says HIV patients in small, rural communities are especially vulnerable to discrimination, and providers need to be more sensitive to patients' fears.
"In rural areas, the type of training that needs to go on with providers needs to be more intense, because they're also working with their own fears for their family and the community."
I'm Tom Britt.
Whetten-Goldstein says HIV patients want to know when one medical provider plans to share information about their condition with another provider.
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"What the patients are asking for is that they know, when they go to another provider,that the information is going to be shared, so that they're informed and they're not surprised when that happens."
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