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HIV Testing and Informed Consent

Everyone has the right to make their own decisions about their body so no patient can be given medical treatment without their consent. Consenting to medical treatment has two parts to it: information (understanding) and permission (agreeing).

With an HIV test, you must know what the test is, why it is being done and what the result will mean for you before you agree tothe blood sample being taken. This is called pre-test counselling. After the HIV test results have been received you must be counselled again to help you understand and accept the effect that a negative or a positive result will have on your life. This is called post-test counselling.


Thami is a care-giver in a children’s home. The matron informs him that all staff in the hospital must have a Hepatitis B test.

Thami agrees to this. But, the hospital does an HIV test too, saying it saves time and money to do both tests at the same time. The matron tells Thami he is HIV-positive. Thami is furious because he only gave permission for the Hepatitis B test.

The matron did not have a right to do the test. She should have discussed it with Thami first and obtained his consent.