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Doctors Endorse AIDS Tests for Hospital Patients, Doctors

May 1, 1991

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey’s medical society has endorsed testing of all hospital patients for AIDS. Advocates for AIDS patients criticized the move, which they said was a first by a state medical society.

″Universal testing for HIV is long overdue,″ said Dr. Robert H. Stackpole, who wrote the proposal ratified Tuesday by the Medical Society of New Jersey, which represents about 9,000 doctors. HIV is the AIDS virus.

The resolution, voted on by 200 doctors representing county medical societies, urged all hospitals to test patients routinely for the virus.

The original proposal called for testing with or without the patient’s consent, but it was amended to ask hospitals to develop their own policies.

Nancy Scerbo of the Hyacinth Foundation, an AIDS service agency in New Brunswick, attacked the resolution.

″Telling someone they’re positive (for the AIDS virus) is not the same as telling they’re B-negative″ blood type, she said. ″Testing can’t be on a checklist for people who are just getting gall bladder surgery.″

New Jersey is one of the states hardest hit by AIDS. A national survey of 26 hospitals by the Centers for Disease Control last year found a Newark hospital had the highest rate of AIDS infection.

Of patients tested for the virus at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 7.8 percent tested positive. The rate for all 26 hospitals was 1.3 percent, the CDC reported.

The resolution was passed after a Superior Court judge ruled that surgeons infected with the virus must inform patients before operating on them. Backers of the plan insisted Thursday’s ruling did not influence their decision.

Growing anxiety about transmission of AIDS by health professionals led the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association to urge doctors with AIDS to tell patients they’re infected or to stop performing surgery.

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