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HIV-positive woman sues doctor after being tested without consent

A New York City woman is suing her doctor for informing her she tested positive for HIV, DNAinfo.com reported.

The 31-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says her doctor, Dr. Pavel Yutsis at Lifex Medical Care in New York, violated state law by testing her for HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – without her consent.

"I was tricked. I never signed any paper," the woman told DNAinfo.com. "It was a slap in the face."

The woman visited Yutsis in 2011 to treat a vitamin B12 deficiency following gastric-bypass surgery.  After multiple treatments, she continued to have low levels of B12 as well as a shortage of white blood cells.  Yutsis recommended an HIV test – but she refused.

On September 9 of 2011, during another doctor’s visit, an assistant of Yutsis told the woman they needed to draw more blood for testing.  The woman assumed it was to check the results of her latest treatment and said that she was unaware it would be tested for HIV instead.

Two weeks later, Yutis told the woman she tested positive for the virus.

"My body got numb. I was not good after that," the woman told DNAinfo.com.  "I was tricked with something I had no clue about."

Furthermore, she said the results were not kept confidential.  A group of the center's employees allegedly were speaking to each other with her file open, and one allegedly attempted to offer reassurance concerning her results.

New York law requires written consent from a patient before administering an HIV test, according to DNAinfo.com.  Doctors must also offer counseling to the patient, explaining how HIV is contracted and how testing can be done anonymously.  After sharing the results, the doctor must offer more counseling and referrals for emotional support and medical treatment.

The patient must also be added to a state Health Department registry if the test is positive.

"These are personal choices that the law has specifically carved out to make the specific decision," the woman’s lawyer, Daniel Pepitone, told DNAinfo.com. "We're all aware of the value of finding out, but she has her own reasons. We need to protect her rights under the law.”

Click for more from DNAinfo.com.