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On visibility: AIDS, deception by patients, and the responsibility of the doctor.
  1. S Dunbar,
  2. S Rehm
  1. Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio.


    Contrary to the usual discussion of lying or deceiving in medical ethics literature where the lying or deceiving is done by the doctor or surgeon, this paper deals with lying or deceiving on the part of the patient. Three cases involving HIV-infected male homosexual or bisexual persons are presented. In each case the patient deceives or wants the doctor to deceive a third party on his behalf. Are such deceptions or lies expressions of compassion? Are they in the patient's best interests? Do they compromise the doctor's integrity? It is submitted that societal attitudes towards male homosexual acts were internalised by the men described in these cases. Thus, a dichotomy was created between the private life and the public image. Fear of condemnation by the doctor or others restricted communication towards the goal of the maintenance of the patient's health. The lack of trust which inhibits truth-telling results in mutual and progressive isolation and impedes the provision of optimal care.

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