Managing the public health risk of a 'sex worker' with hepatitis B infection: legal and ethical considerations

Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (10):623-626 (2011)
Abstract
This paper examines the ethical issues faced by health workers managing a fictional case of a female sex worker who is hepatitis B positive with a high level of virus but is asymptomatic. According to guidelines she does not require treatment herself, but is potentially highly infectious to others. Recent legal cases in the UK show it can be criminal to pass on HIV or hepatitis B infection sexually if the risk is known and the partner has not been informed. However, there is no statute or case law showing that health workers are required to intervene to prevent such a potential ‘crime’, particularly when the partners are unknown, as in this case. The health workers could respond in various ways. They could do nothing, thus making further infection probable. They could advise the sex worker to use condoms and to inform her clients. They could treat the sex worker to reduce her level of infectivity, although there is no benefit to her. They could disclose the sex worker's status, although breaking confidentiality is a serious matter ethically and may be of no benefit to the unknown client group. Regulating prostitution might help; but sex workers with infection may work off licence. This paper discusses the clinical, moral and ethical issues associated with such a scenario and concludes that the most beneficial course is to target clients, through health education, to recognise the potential risks of infection from a sex worker and to take suitable precautions including immunisation against hepatitis B
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,088
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
David Shaw (2008). Dentistry and the Ethics of Infection. Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (3):184-187.
Matthew K. Wynia (2007). Public Health, Public Trust and Lobbying. American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):4 – 7.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-09-22

Total downloads

7 ( #195,012 of 1,101,948 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #306,569 of 1,101,948 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.