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February 6, 1987

Mandatory Screening for HIV Antibody

Author Affiliations

Cumming, Ga

Cumming, Ga

JAMA. 1987;257(5):625. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390050051009

To the Editor.—  The authors from The Hastings Center1 put great emphasis on individual freedom, but ignore the public's right to be protected from the consequences of communicable disease.They would limit screening for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) because "even such an ostensibly limited intervention [as screening] can have dramatic and deleterious consequences for individuals," and the results ought not to be considered when applying for health or life insurance so as to avoid economic burden to the public of providing health care benefits to those affected. This exquisite rationale is never applied to persons with diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or alcoholism when those poor individuals are denied employment or insurance.Mandatory screening of such individuals as applicants for marriage licenses should not be required, as marriage is central to an individual's freedom, say the authors. Why is AIDS different from syphilis, for which testing is required to protect