499_Tale_461_20100104181411Taipei: HIV/AIDS rights activist groups have denounced the practice by a premier hospital in Taiwan of conducting unauthorized HIV tests on gay patients.

Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan and the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association have in a joint statement with criticized the Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital for such a practice, according to taipeitimes.com.

The Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital is a premier private hospital that boasts of serving the public interest according to government policies as well as being a medical center and a teaching hospital.

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 the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act.

It is the first time the government has issued a fine in a matter of this nature.

The case involved conducting an unauthorized HIV test on a gay male patient earlier this year.

Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan secretary-general Lin Yi-hui told the Taipei Times that the man filed a petition with the department after he discovered that a urologist at the hospital from whom he received treatment for kidney stones had used a sample of his blood drawn for another reason to test for HIV without his knowledge or consent.

The man who wanted to be referred to by his full name said the urologist was allegedly aware of his gay sexual identity.

The case created an online debate after his experiences were published by some local news outlets.

Many supported the patient 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 joint statement demand that hospitals abide by the law and refrain from conducting HIV tests on patients without their consent and  guarantee safety of medical personnel and the autonomy of patients.

It said hospitals should recommend HIV tests for patients based only on their own medical professional judgment instead on patients’ sexual orientation.

The statement was endorsed by 28 civic organizations, including the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association, the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy and the Judicial Reform Foundation.

Source: taipeitimes.com