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BMJ. 1996 Apr 27;312(7038):1083-4.

An epidemic like any other? Rights and responsibilities in HIV prevention.

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  • 1Health Services Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, HIV prevention has been closely associated with the protection of individual human rights. Traditional public health measures such as compulsory testing and isolation have largely been rejected as ineffective in public health terms and inappropriate in the context of human rights protection. HIV prevention has been based instead chiefly on elective measures --information, education, counselling, and voluntary testing. In the past five years there have been important clinical, epidemiological, and social developments in the AIDS epidemic. These changes, combined with a growing recognition of possible weaknesses inherent in a strictly voluntarist approach to HIV prevention, may herald a new approach to AIDS control which places more weight on social responsibility in the context of HIV prevention.

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