HIV and the epidemiologist

Lancet. 1989 Nov 18;2(8673):1228-9. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(89)91844-8.


KIE: The need for reliable epidemiological data on HIV seropositivity rates in a general population appears to conflict with the ethical requirement that consent be obtained from persons whose blood is screened for HIV antibodies. Gillet contends that informed consent is not necessary for epidemiological screening since there is no reason to link blood samples and test results with identifiable individuals. He argues that it is ethical to test blood drawn from hospital patients who have given a very general and "non-informative sort of consent" that their blood can be used anonymously for research. Even this degree of consent may be unnecessary since it would be impossible to trace an HIV positive anonymous blood sample to its source. Gillet also argues that this method of obtaining samples relieves epidemiologists of the obligation to notify individuals whose blood tests positive for HIV.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Disclosure
  • Epidemiology*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • HIV Seropositivity / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Moral Obligations
  • Research
  • Risk Assessment