Positive HIV Test Results from Deceased Organ Donors: Should We Disclose to Next of Kin?

Anne L Dalle Ave, David M Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the context of deceased organ donation, donors are routinely tested for HIV, to check for suitability for organ donation. This article examines whether a donor's HIV status should be disclosed to the donor's next of kin. On the one hand, confidentiality requires that sensitive information not be disclosed, and a duty to respect confidentiality may persist after death. On the other hand, breaching confidentiality may benefit third parties at risk of having been infected by the organ donor, as it may permit them to be tested for HIV and seek treatment in case of positive results. We conclude that the duty to warn third parties surpasses the duty to respect confidentiality. However, in order to minimize risks linked to the breach of confidentiality, information should be restrained to only concerned third parties, that is, those susceptible to having been infected by the donor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Confidentiality/ethics
  • Death
  • Disclosure/ethics
  • Duty to Warn/ethics
  • HIV Infections/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Tissue Donors

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