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The most personal information of all: an appraisal of genetic privacy in the shadow of the human genome project

Laurie, G

International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family   10 (1) 74-101

January 1996

The advent of genetics and genetic testing has given rise to unique problems for the family. The discovery of a predisposition to a genetic condition in one individual also reveals information about the genetic make-up and potential risks of family members. There is, therefore, potential for conflict over access to and control of such information. Traditionally, the duty of confidentiality owed by a health care professional to a patient has provided an appropriate means by which personal health information has been kept secured. It is not clear, however, that the problems which surrounds genetic information in the familial milieu can be adequately dealt with using confidentiality. This article examines these problems and argues for the value of an appeal to the concept of privacy in seeking to resolve some of the more intractable issues.