The AIDS virus and the nature of its transmission raise a number of ethical problems and questions for health care workers. One of these is when to violate the principle of confidentiality. Reflect on the information about the virus and ethical problems surrounding it that you read about in Chapter 12 of your text. Now, consider the “Decisions Scenario 2” on page 464:

“I know Ben Therman is HIV positive,” Dr. Tad Knowles said. “He’s been in therapy with me for almost five years, and he tells me about his viral load. Ben got the virus from a dirty needle when he was an IV drug user, but he’s been clean since he was diagnosed.”

“He didn’t tell Margo any of that,” Dr. Susan Thomas said. “She’s been my patient for two years, and he’s the first man she’s had sex with in that time. I asked her if she’d checked out Ben, and she said she’d been too embarrassed. Besides, he was so wonderful, she was sure he would have told her if he had HIV.”

“Oh, brother,” Dr. Knowles said. “Margo needs to know, so she can get tested and start taking drugs if she’s HIV positive.”

“So what should we do about this, Tad?”

In your post, respond to the following:

  • What conflict of duties do Drs. Knowles and Dr. Thomas face?
  • Does Dr. Knowles have a duty to keep the information confidential when what he knows about Ben might help save Margo’s life?

You are encouraged to locate additional resources in the Capella library, your public library, or authoritative online sites to provide support for your viewpoint. Be sure to weave and cite the resources throughout your work.

Make your initial post by Thursday.


Munson, R. (2014). Intervention and reflection: Basic issues in bioethics. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.