Legislators, medical professionals and HIV/AIDS support groups had mixed reactions yesterday to a proposal to include a note on the HIV/AIDS status of individuals on their National Health Insurance cards.
The proposal was suggested as a way of avoiding a repeat of the errors that led to two local hospitals carrying out several organ transplants from a donor who had been HIV-positive.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) and Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) have backed the proposal.
Yang said the human rights of both HIV/AIDS patients and others should be protected and that indicating the cardholder’s status was a “necessary” step. Cheng said medical personnel have a responsibility to maintain patient confidentiality, but must also have access to vital information to keep them safe.
However, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chiech-ju (陳節如) said the proposal was “not a good idea.” She suggested that information on HIV/AIDS status be registered with the Centers for Disease Control, which could provide hospitals with the information on a need-to-know basis.
Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said a similar proposal had been made before, but was opposed by human rights groups, who said it would further stigmatize those with HIV or AIDS.
“A note on the card [on HIV/AIDS status] could violate 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),” Shih said.
Centers for Disease Control Vice Director-General Shih Wen-yi (施文儀), however, said that such a notation would be an extra precaution against error.
Nevertheless, Wei Jeng (魏崢), director of the Heart Center of Cheng Hsin General Hospital, and Chu Shu-hsun (朱樹勳), president of Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, said diseases such as hepatitis and gonorrhea can also be passed on through blood.
“The hospital should conduct thorough checks on [organ and blood] donors and the key point is to be rigorous with such tests,” Wei said.