Man hides HIV status to obtain surgery

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 1:16pm

A Tianjin man who was HIV-positive concealed his medical condition from doctors so he could have surgery to treat his lung cancer, after several other hospitals refused to treat him, an HIV/AIDS association director revealed on the weibo social network.

Li Hu, the regional director of non-profit organisation China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDS, used the website to share the news that the man had been successful in getting his surgery by hiding his HIV status.

“Good news!…after being rejected by Tianjin Cancer Hospital, he modified copy of his medical notes to skip blood testing and managed to receive the treatment,” Li wrote. “He swears he will sue the hospitals that refused to treat him. Any lawyer willing to help is welcomed.”

The 25-year-old lung cancer patient, nicknamed Feng, was turned away by Tianjin Cancer Hospital in early November after a doctor found he was HIV-positive, Li Hu told Beijing News.

Feng then went to Beijing Ditan hospital, a hospital entitled to treat HIV/AIDS carriers, but was also rejected. Li said the hospital told Feng it did not have adequate facilities to treat his lung cancer.

Anxious to get the surgery done, Feng removed the HIV-positive status from his medical record copy to avoid blood tests, and managed to receive the lung cancer surgery at another hospital in Tianjin, according to Li.

Soon after the post was published on weibo, thousands of reposts and comments turned the site into a battleground of debate over the patient’s controversial act. Many questioned if it was legitimate for a patient to hide his HIV/AIDS status from hospitals in order to receive proper treatment, after other hospitals turned him/her away.

Many denounced Feng’s act, calling it reckless. “Good intentions do not justify his act which puts medical staff at risk,” one user wrote.

But others questioned hospital practice. “If the hospitals cannot prove they are incapable of treating HIV carriers or AIDS patients, then people should sue them for discrimination,” another user commented.

Three doctors who were unwilling to disclose their names told Beijing News that most infectious disease hospitals were quite capable of treating HIV carriers and AIDS patients if they followed strict sanitisation procedures.

And according to China’s Regulation on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS, patients must disclose their virus status to doctors, while doctors must not refuse treatment based on their status, the doctors said.

But they were also aware of some hospitals are unwilling to receive infected patients.

“Medical staff are reluctant to treat the infected solely because of their fear about AIDS,” the doctors explained. “It is a common social norm and it is difficult for people to not discriminate.”