New Hampshire HIV-Positive Man Files Human Rights Complaint Against Doctor
A New Hampshire HIV-positive man has filed a human rights complaint against a doctor who refused to perform a procedure on him in the doctor's office, the AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. Dr. Gary Dunetz of the Urology Center of Southern New Hampshire was scheduled to perform a bladder examination in his office on April 6 on Mario Poulin, an HIV-positive man from Nashua. According to the complaint, after Poulin arrived and disrobed, Dunetz canceled the procedure, contending that his office's sterilization procedures were insufficient to protect future patients from HIV. According to documents filed with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights, Dunetz then offered to reschedule the exam at a nearby hospital where the sterilization procedures were more thorough. In a telephone interview Poulin stated, "I was humiliated. I felt like a disease. It was awful." Dunetz' lawyer, Jack Dwyer, defended his client, saying, "Dunetz' care was entirely appropriate and indeed compassionate," but would not discuss further details of the case. Dunetz had originally scheduled the office exam with the knowledge that Poulin was HIV-positive. The exam was ultimately performed in the hospital four days after the April appointment. Legal Challenge Although the exam was carried out, Poulin still feels his rights were violated. "This totally devastated me. I just froze because I could not believe a doctor could act that way. I thought it was pretty inhumane of him," he said. Poulin's lawyers, from the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said that state and federal law protects HIV-positive patients from being treated differently from other patients. The group successfully argued a similar case in Maine involving a dentist who refused to treat a cavity in an HIV-infected person on the basis that the Americans With Disabilities Act protects HIV-positive patients against discrimination in doctor's offices. An epidemiologist with the CDC said that there have been reported cases of HIV transmission from one patient to another from improperly sterilized equipment, but that they are rare (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 11/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.