Genetic Information Vs Privacy Essay

843 words - 3 pages

The genetic technology revolution has proved to be both a blessing and a blight. The Human Genome Project is aimed at mapping and sequencing the entire human genome. DNA chips are loaded with information about human genes. The chip reveals specific information about the individuals’ health and genetic makeup (Richmond & Germov 2009).The technology has been described as a milestone by many in that it facilitates research, screening, and treatment of genetic conditions. However, there have been fears that the technology permits a reduction in privacy when the information is disclosed. Many argue that genetic information can also be used unfairly to discriminate against or stigmatize individuals (Willis 2009).
Doctors, hospitals and other care providers dispute that they should have access to the medical records and other health information of any patient citing that they need this information to provide the best possible treatment for proper planning. Insurers on the other hand claim they must have personal health information in order to properly process claims and pay for the care. They also insist that this will provide protection against fraud. Government authorities make the same arguments saying that in providing taxpayer-funded coverage to its citizens, it has the right to know what it is paying for and to protect against fraud and abuse. Researchers both medical and none nonmedical have the same argument saying that they need access to these information so as to improve the quality of care, conduct studies that will make healthcare more effective and produce new products and therapies (Easthope 2005).
All these arguments when analyzed are valid. This has brought about ethics issues that are involved with increased use and release of personal medical information. It is important that researchers and Insurers be given access to this information to improve research and when making claims respectively. But when those involved in these legitimate activities make demands that seem inappropriate, the records must be protected. Disclosure of personal medical information should also be subject to patients’ or families’ consent (Richmond et al. 2009).
Although the gene chip will enable an individual to know whether he/she has a genetic disease, that person may not want to know the information. Many people are frightened that a positive finding on a genetic test will result in discrimination and ostracism because the society will consider them abnormal (Easthope 2005). The other concern is that with genetic test information one might lose or might be unable to get a job or insurance. There have been concerns that with the knowledge of one’s medical...

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