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Informed Consent of Very Sick Subjects in Nigeria

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This article highlights a number of ethical challenges I face in obtaining informed consent from very sick subjects with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Some of the subjects with TB have an associated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. From my experience in administering informed consent and health surveys, I found the subjects to be generally mentally stable but physically exhausted. Many of the very sick subjects cough excessively and cannot tolerate a 45-minute conversation with the study staff in order for them to administer consent and conduct a survey after the routine clinical evaluation. In this situation, the administration of a qualitative consent that preserves the subject's right and autonomy becomes a challenge.
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Keywords: Nigeria; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); informed consent; tuberculosis; very sick; vulnerable subjects

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Human Virology University of Maryland School of Medicine, BaltimoreMaryland, USA

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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