You would think that if you were living with HIV, you would certainly want to know that very important health news. But for a 31 year old Harlem woman, this was not the case. When it came to her HIV status, home girl was like Mario Winans, she didn’t want to know and is suing the doctor who administered the test and told her. The Harlem woman, who filed her lawsuit under the alias Jane Doe, had recently undergone gastric bypass surgery but she was not healing properly. Her nutritionist noticed that she had a B12 deficiency and recommended that she see Brooklyn doctor, Pavel Yutsis.
Dr. Yutsis also noticed that the woman had a shortage of white blood cells so he asked her if he could administer an HIV test. Jane Doe declined.
Yutsis came back a second time, telling the mystery woman that he needed more blood. Though he never asked her to sign a consent form to be tested for HIV, that’s what he used her blood for and came back and told the woman she was HIV positive.
Jane Doe told DNAinfo.com that her body went numb when she learned of the results: “I was not good after that. I was tricked with something I had no clue about.”
New York public health law requires that the patient provide written consent for a doctor to administer an HIV test. This courtesy wasn’t extended to Doe. And to add insult to injury she claims that other staff members in the office were discussing her HIV results.
Her attorney argues that while there is value in knowing one’s HIV status, Doe had her reasons for not wanting to find out and her rights deserved to be protected. Ethically others claim that Dr. Yutsis’ decision to test her without her knowledge or consent is an example of something called physician paternalism, in which the idea that the “doctor knows best” trumps the patient’s rights or desires.
Though Jane Doe was abstract when describing her current health condition, claiming that she’s “working on things,” she did take time to mention that because of her gastric bypass surgery she’s “slim, trim and sexi.” She continued by saying, “If I turn sideways, I’ll be marked absent.”
Legally, Ms. Jane Doe certainly has a case she’ll most likely win. But morally, I have to wonder why she didn’t want the HIV test. You think she might have had an inkling that she was already positive? If you consider her response to the health questions, the fact that she completely skipped questions about her health now that she knows she has HIV, to speak about her new thin body makes me believe that her priorities are a bit out of whack and that perhaps she didn’t want to deal with a positive HIV diagnosis because it would put a serious wrench in the plans she had for her new body.
That being said, I do wish her the best and hope she’s able to acknowledge her condition so she can start focusing on getting well.
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