In an Op-Ed Page column (May 3), Dr. Neil Schram relates a surgeon's approach to the difficulty in obtaining AIDS antibody testing on his elective surgery patients. The surgeon " . . . Requires all of his patients to donate at least one unit of blood for themselves. Thus the hospital blood bank does the pre-test counseling and obtains the consent. Presumably the surgeon will be notified if the test is positive so that he can take extra precautions. . . ."
While this approach is novel, it is also illegal in the state of California for a blood bank to notify a donor of the results of his AIDS test, even if it is positive, unless more than 60 days have elapsed since the blood donation. This law was enacted to discourage donations from people worried about AIDS. If you are worried about AIDS, you should not donate. Alternative test sites were established for such persons.
In the case of a patient donating blood for himself (autologous donation) the blood bank, with a proper informed consent statement, could notify the patient. However, it is strictly illegal for anyone to notify a physician about a patient's AIDS antibody test, unless there is written consent from the patient.