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Ethics and Epidemiology$
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Steven S. Coughlin, Tom L. Beauchamp, and Douglas L. Weed

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195322934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195322934.001.0001

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Ethics and Epidemiology in the Age of AIDS

Ethics and Epidemiology in the Age of AIDS

(p.204) 10 Ethics and Epidemiology in the Age of AIDS
Ethics and Epidemiology

Carol Levine

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a general discussion of ethics and epidemiology. It then focuses on five examples which illustrate the interrelationship of ethics and epidemiology in the case of AIDS. The first describes the conflict during the early years of the epidemic between the need for valid data about a new disease of unknown etiology and subjects' fears of confidentiality breaches. The second details the conflict between the scientific definitions of the term “disease” and the economic and regulatory uses of these definitions, as well as their impact on individuals. The third pits the epidemiologic value of anonymous serological surveillance techniques against the clinical value of identifying seropositivity in individuals as it played out in the case of pregnant women and newborns. The fourth example concerns the global impact of HIV/AIDS on children whose parents are either ill or dead, and the ethical implications of various definitions of orphanhood. The fifth example relates the story back to the outset of the epidemic, describing the announcement of a new and rapidly progressing HIV variant to a highly sexually active gay man.

Keywords:   ethics, epidemiology, AIDS, confidentiality, epidemiologic studies

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