AIDS-Infected, Practicing Doctor Dies
SHOREVIEW, Minn. (AP) _ A doctor who shocked patients by disclosing he had continued to practice medicine nearly a year after learning he had AIDS has died of AIDS complications, his minister said Monday. Dr. Philip Benson was 41.
Benson died Sunday at home, said the Rev. George Johnson of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines.
″It’s been a real lesson in courage and faith and forgiveness on the part of Dr. Benson and his family,″ Johnson said. ″In many ways, people have not dealt fairly with him and yet great compassion was shown to him in his final struggle with life.″
Benson learned in September 1990 that he had AIDS, and disclosed his condition in letters to patients in June 1991, when he stopped practicing.
He had practiced with open sores on his hands, caused by an unrelated skin condition, from May 1990 through February 1991. But health officials insisted the risk of Benson spreading AIDS was extremely small because he always wore rubber gloves, sometimes two pairs.
″Given the medical knowledge we had at the time ... I was taking the necessary precautions to prevent the transmission of the virus,″ Benson said last summer.
More than 1,000 patients were notified Benson had AIDS. More than 300 on whom he performed invasive procedures, including 37 babies he delivered, were offered AIDS tests after Benson disclosed his condition. All tested negative.
The only known case in the United States of an AIDS-stricken health care worker infecting patients is that of Florida dentist David Acer, who infected five people before he died, according to the Centers for Disease Control.