His name was Paul. I had cared for him for several years as he struggled to cope with his HIV
infection. He had contracted HIV through unprotected sex. He’d been diagnosed a decade earlier when he first developed Pneumocystis pneumonia.
When Paul was indicted on charges, brought by a partner of several months, of having sex without disclosing his HIV status, Paul insisted he had disclosed the matter, and although the partner continued to test negative for HIV, the district attorney was determined to prosecute.
I was served with a subpoena requiring me to testify about Paul’s HIV status and his care. Surely, I thought, naively, our conversations were protected by patient-client privilege laws. Weren’t they? Wasn’t my office a place where patients could talk frankly and safely to me about their personal lives and sexual practices, their bodies and their symptoms?
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