No group of doctors anywhere is likely to meet all internationally-agreed ethical and human rights standards all of the time. Thus, researchers should investigate standards and attitudes of doctors in both developed and developing countries, and compare their findings.
So argues Solomon R. Benatar in this article in PLoS Medicine. He says the study by Chen Reis and colleagues of Nigerian doctors' attitudes to HIV patients, in the same issue of the journal, raises important questions: firstly, what ethical standards should doctors aspire to; secondly, what causes discrimination; and thirdly, how can discrimination be reduced.
Benatar draws attention to the study's conclusions that some Nigerian doctors discriminate against HIV patients because of poor healthcare resources, inadequate education, lack of enforcement of anti-discrimination policies, and cultural attitudes.But, says Benatar, grasping the significance of any deviation from the 'gold standard' and pinpointing its cause requires comparative studies of different countries. Tackling discrimination needs an understanding of its causes.