I am Nurse Jane Doe, the nurse who became HIV-infected at San Francisco General Hospital after a "single needle stick" in July, 1987. In "Doctor Doom," by Michael Rogers (April 21), Lorraine Day once again uses my situation to further a personal agenda of AIDS hysteria and the violation of patients' rights.
Day has consistently promoted mandatory testing of patients. Since a policy of mandatory testing may jeopardize the personal liberties of the patient, one must weigh carefully what benefit knowledge of the patient's HIV status will afford the health-care worker. Health-care workers are currently expected to employ universal precautions in keeping with the presumption that each patient is HIV positive. Such practice is necessary since the presence of HIV antibodies routinely takes six weeks to six months to manifest in the blood test. A negative result can seduce the health-care worker into a false sense of security. If knowledge of a positive result will not ultimately alter the health-care worker's practice, why call for mandatory testing? Will awareness of a positive result lead to the withholding of surgery, treatment and care?
From the patient's perspective, the documentation of a positive result opens the patient up to possibilities of discrimination by insurers, employers, landlords. A positive result may be psychologically traumatic.