James M N Duffy and Simon Rackstraw document the challenges facing doctors who are HIV positive
- By: James M N Duffy, Simon Rackstraw
No one knows how many doctors practising in the United Kingdom are HIV positive. The professional ramifications of being HIV positive become clear only when seen through an historical lens, because the medical profession has been notoriously bad at supporting ill doctors in the past.
The Department of Health and the General Medical Council's policy is to support disclosure with confidentiality and acceptance, allowing HIV positive doctors to continue their professional practice. Indeed, these rights are protected in British law, through the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. But the reality of ensuring that employers and colleagues do not discriminate against HIV positive doctors remains a challenge in medical practice.
The General Medical Council considers HIV infection to be a serious communicable disease because it can be transmitted from human to human and results in a serious life threatening illness. HIV positive doctors must, therefore, follow the council's guidance, as outlined in