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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Wife wins damages for HIV case
The case could have implications for patient confidentiality
An Australian woman has successfully sued two doctors after they failed to tell her that her husband was HIV positive.

The New South Wales state supreme court awarded the woman, who has now contracted the disease, A$727,000 damages.

The court backed the 28-year-old's claim that doctors should not have assumed her partner would tell her about his positive test.

The Australian Medical Association is examining the ruling amid concerns that it could have major implications for patient confidentiality.

Joint tests

The woman, known only as "PD", and her then fiancÚ, known only as "FH", underwent tests for sexually transmitted infections and HIV in November 1998.

All her tests were negative but her fiancÚ tested positive for HIV.

No amount of money is going to replace what she has lost but she feels the judgement had vindicated her
Lawyers for 'PD'

The couple were not told each others' results and they subsequently married and had unprotected sex.

The woman told the court she believed both tests were negative. She said Sydney doctors Nicholas Harvey and King Weng Chen should have warned her of her husband-to-be's condition.

Judge Jerrold Cripps ruled the two doctors should have warned the woman's fiancÚ he would be breaking the law if he did not tell her he had HIV.

"Had FH been asked whether he proposed to tell his future wife of his condition and been reminded at that time if he had sexual intercourse with her without telling her of it he was committing an offence he would, I infer, have said he would tell her," he said.

Outside the court, the woman's lawyer David Hirsch said his client was happy with the judge's decision and relieved the case was over.

"Of course, she has indicated that no amount of money is going to replace what she has lost but she feels the judgement had vindicated her and she's pleased she had the nerve to take on the medical profession in a case like this," he said.

The Australian Medical Association said its legal experts were examining the implications of the case.

HIV warning after legal ruling
16 Nov 01  |  Scotland

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