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Council to lower age for HIV tests

THE MEDICAL Council is considering lowering to 15 from 18 the age at which young people can seek HIV tests without permission from their parents.

The process should be based on the youngsters' competence and ability to tell what right from wrong, rather than their ages, Prof Dr Somsak Lohlekha said.

The age-lowering for HIV testing is now under consideration by the Council of State, but it is not yet known when the process will be put into effect.

There is debate among doctors whether lowering the age is appropriate, and if the idea is motivated by a desire to protect doctors who might be sued for performing HIV tests on young people without their parents' consent.

Somsak said many clinics for adolescents could not provide full service if teenagers wishing to undergo an HIV test were accompanied by their parents; or in cases where they were unwilling to let their parents know about their likelihood of contracting HIV. Hence, many turn to anonymous clinics.

Many parents made their children's possible sexual partners undergo the HIV test, instead of telling their children to do so.

The doctor said public attitude that children were to blame if they contracted HIV had to be changed.

Orientation about HIV and that it can be treated needed to be promoted further among parents and society, Somsak said.


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