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Retiree Questions Compulsory HIV Test

A retired teacher in Foshan questioned a compulsory HIV test by a local hospital where he had a minor operation recently and claimed it caused controversy in his family.

The teacher, identified as Zhang, said the hospital did not ask his permission to administer the HIV test before he underwent a hemorrhoid operation.

He did not realize it had been given until his angry wife held up the receipt for his medical expenses, including the HIV test, and asked him what he had done.

"I don't know why I should take the test. It was too disgraceful," Zhang said. "I had been a teacher for years. What would others think if they knew I had taken an HIV test?"

He later asked the hospital for an explanation, who said it was a required test for all inpatients, except children. A man surnamed Li, a local civil servant, also said he had been asked to have blood drawn for an HIV test before being hospitalized in a Foshan hospital. He challenged the request and was told it was good for both doctors and other inpatients.

Some patients agreed with the hospital and said an HIV test was necessary for the health of others. The hospital defended its policy and said it had begun testing all patients to prevent cross infection between doctors and patients in 2002. Tests, which cost less than 100 yuan apiece, have helped find some HIV carriers, according to the hospital.

Qi Yaofang, vice director-general of the city's public health bureau, said he did not oppose the compulsory HIV test, if it was in accordance with the provincial government's related rules. He said such tests would become routine for hospitals in the future.

(Shenzhen Daily February 12, 2004)

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