Magazine article The Futurist

AIDS and Ethics

Magazine article The Futurist

AIDS and Ethics

Article excerpt

A young man refuses to tell his girlfriend that he is infected with the AIDS virus, for fear that she will leave him. Is this physician obliged to warn the girlfriend - or say nothing out of respect for the patient's right to confidentiality?

AIDS is posing "disturbingly novel and provocative ethical questions," says Frederic G. Reamer, a professor of social work at Rhode Island College and editor of AIDS & Ethics. For instance, Reamer asks, "Is it always unethical for health care professionals to refuse to treat persons with AIDS? Can militant activities, such as violent protest, be justified if they lead to meaningful change in funding for AIDS prevention, treatment, and research? Should employers and insurance companies be prohibited from screening for AIDS under any circumstances?"

AIDS has also inspired much litigation regarding restrictions on education, housing, and international travel. A study by the American Civil Liberties Union on discrimination against people with AIDS found that some 30% of the cases of discrimination were against people perceived to be at risk of infection, including caregivers.

The AIDS epidemic differs from most previous U. …

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