HIV testing for minors

Health authorities are attempting to alter the legislation that forbids doctors from performing HIV testing on youngsters under the age of 16 without the consent of their parents.

The director general for health Francisco George told Público newspaper that a working group in charge of this subject had already presented their proposal.

António Diniz, the coordinator of the national programme for HIV infection, also stated that a “common sense solution” is needed for cases where youngsters aged under 16 request HIV testing but wish to keep it confidential, and that the goal is to find one before the end of the year.

“We want to set up guidelines so that we know how to solve these cases which can be very disparate,” he said, adding that rapid HIV testing will be available at all health centres soon, and “teenagers will be considered in this process”.

Despite the law, some doctors admit to having conducted tests on youths. One health professional said that he has been testing teenagers for over 20 years and that “it does not cross his mind to deny someone the possibility of the test just because they do not want their parents to know about it”.

Anonymous testing is already in place at HIV prevention and early detection centres, known as CAD, in Portugal. Health professionals will not request an individual’s identification at these centres and therefore the age of those tested is unknown.