The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPC) is to review all charges brought against doctors for testing patients for HIV without
consent or counselling and disclosing the results to people other than the patients, it revealed
The HPC stands accused of not acting against any doctor accused of improper ethical conduct in 28 cases referred to it
since 1996, despite payment of substantial settlements after court hearings.
The AIDS Law Project (ALP) of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand intended taking High Court action in the
next month to force the HPC to reveal its reasons for inaction in three matters, said attorney Anita
Calling for an investigation by the Public Protector, the AIDS Consortium said the issue highlighted a lack of training and
implementation of HPC guidelines on HIV/AIDS, and a lack of understanding of treatment of people
with HIV/AIDS, and stigmatisation of victims. Under HPC guidelines, testing can be done only with consent and pre- and
post-test counselling. Confidentiality is absolute, unless a patient consents to disclosure, or a practitioner is convinced the patient's
activities will endanger someone else's health. Should a patient refuse to disclose their status to this person even after
additional counselling, the practitioner could do so and the HPC would not act against
Doctors who did not comply faced cautionary reprimand, fines of up to R10 000 per
charge, temporary suspension from practising or erasure from the medical register.
(Source: The Citizen, 08/02/01)