HIV infection and the law of torts

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Chitala, Chali
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The human race has been hit with one of the deadliest and most dangerous viruses called the HIV. HIV is believed to have originated around 1930 in rural areas of Central Africa, where the virus may have been present for many years in isolated communities.1 The virus probably did not spread because members of these rural communities had limited contact with people from other areas. But in the 1960s and 1970s, political upheaval, wars, drought, and famine forced many people from these rural areas to migrate to cities to find jobs. During this time, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, accelerated and quickly spread throughout Africa. As world travel became more prevalent, HIV infection developed into a worldwide epidemic. The infection of HIV brings with it a lot of social, professional, and financial constraints. It logically follows that the law ought to intervene in these issues. Chapter one goes on to give an overview of HIV and the law of torts and how the law of torts may generally be employed in various issues surrounding the infection of HIV. There are a number of risks to seropositive people. These are both psychological and social. The psychological risks include anxiety and depression while social risks include stigmatization, discrimination and breaches of confidentiality.2 Chapter two discusses confidentiality and HIV infection risk. Particularly, the chapter looks at the liability of a doctor or any health care professional that knew the HIV status of his patient but did not inform or warn the victim. The chapter also looks at the duty of a person to divulge his status to his or her sexual partner. Seeing the need and importance of knowing the HIV status of a person both as a preventive and a policy measure, Chapter three discusses the legality of HIV testing. At the core of this chapter is whether an HIV test can be undertaken without the fully informed consent of the person being tested. This is done with particular reference to the law of negligence and the tort of battery. The issue of mandatory HIV testing is also considered in this chapter. 1 Microsoft. Encyclopedia Encarta. 2004 2 S.kulusika. Deliberate Transmission of HIV: The Criminal Perspective. Zambia Law Journal. Vol. 37 of 2005, pages 107
HIV-positive persons --Legal status, laws, etc. , AIDS (Disease) --Law and legislation.