The Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan (PRAA) issued a joint statement with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association denouncing Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital for conducting an unauthorized HIV test on a gay male patient earlier this year.
The Greater Kaohsiung City Government’s Department of Health imposed a NT$30,000 (US$1,000) fine on the hospital in March after ruling that its conduct constituted a violation of Item 4 of Article 15 of the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act (人類免疫缺乏病毒傳染防治及感染者權益保障條例).
It is the first time the government has issued a fine in a matter of this nature.
PRAA secretary-general Lin Yi-hui (林宜慧) told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview yesterday that the man in question, who wanted to be referred to by his full name, Chen Yu-jen (陳育仁), filed a petition with the department after he discovered to his astonishment that a urologist at the hospital from whom he had received treatment earlier this year for kidney stone problems had used a sample of his blood drawn for another reason to test for HIV without his knowledge or consent.
The urologist was allegedly aware of Chen’s homosexuality.
“Chen’s case has galvanized quite a heated online debate after his experiences were published by some local news outlets. Some netizens threw their support behind Chen, while others justified the hospital’s conduct by saying that the safety of medical professionals should not be put at risk,” Lin said.
“So we felt obligated to make our stance known on the matter by issuing the statement,” she added.
The statement made three demands.
They were that hospitals abide by the law and refrain from conducting HIV tests on patients without their consent; that the safety of medical personnel and the autonomy of patients should both be guaranteed; and that hospitals should recommend HIV tests for patients based only on their own medical professional judgement, rather than on patients’ sexual orientation.
The statement has received endorsements from 28 civic organizations, including the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association, the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy and the Judicial Reform Foundation.