At our AIDS outpatient clinic we presently care for more than 1,200 HIV-infected patients. All physicians in this unit have participated for 1 year in a case work group supervised by a liaison psychiatrist. The doctor-patient relationship, the assessment in the case work group and the ensuing influence on perception and behavior are demonstrated by 3 cases. Different issues challenge the doctor-patient relationship: the serious prognosis of predominantly young AIDS patients; isolation and stigmatization of patients; fear of contagion, and questions of confidentiality regarding contact tracing. Reflection upon the doctor-patient relationship improves communication skills and increases empathy towards AIDS patients.

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