Since the advent of the Human Genome Project and other studies involving human genes, the 'promise' of one application of genetic testing -- determining disease predisposition -- has turned into the possibility of a major threat. This type of testing provides individuals with important details about potential risks and health problems. Yet, according to Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the very same information that could help as individual achieve a better quality of life may also destroy that quality if that knowledge is used inappropriately. Caplan will present his arguments at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Philadelphia.
"Ironically," states Caplan, "the main obstacle to reaping the benefits of the genetic revolution in testing and screening is the inability of the United States to avoid the problems generated by a risk-rated health care system that fails to provide universal coverage."
Caplan argues that unless we protect individuals from discrimination based upon their genes, insure the privacy and confidentiality of genetic test results, and minimize the impact genetic information has for those seeking life, health, and disability insurance, the promise of genetic testing will never be fulfilled.
Editors note: Dr. Caplan can be reached by calling 215-898-7136 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org