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Am J Public Health. 1998 Apr;88(4):560-3.

Human rights and maternal-fetal HIV transmission prevention trials in Africa.

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Health Law Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


The human rights issues raised by the conduct of maternal-fetal human immunodeficiency virus transmission trials in Africa are not unique to either acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or Africa, but public discussion of these trials presents an opportunity for the United States and other wealthy nations to take the rights and welfare of impoverished populations seriously. The central issue at stake when developed countries perform research on subjects in developing countries is exploitation. The only way to prevent exploitation of a research population is to insist not only that informed consent be obtained but also that, should an intervention be proven beneficial, the intervention will be delivered to the impoverished population. Human rights are universal and cannot be compromised solely on the basis of beliefs or practices of any one country or group. The challenge to the developed countries is to implement programs to improve the health of the people in developing countries both by improving public health infrastructure and by delivering effective drugs and vaccines to the people.

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