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March 13, 1987

The Rights of the Mentally Retarded and Mandatory Screening for the AIDS Virus-Reply

Author Affiliations

The Hastings Center Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

The Hastings Center Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

JAMA. 1987;257(10):1328. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390100065013

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In Reply.—  Mr Tashjian has misinterpreted our concern for the health of mentally retarded people as an affront to their dignity. We are keenly aware of the rights of mentally retarded citizens; one of us (S.M.W.) has participated in litigation on their behalf.We did not advocate the screening of mentally retarded people living in institutional settings; we suggested only that because of their reduced competence and diminished autonomy, screening might be ethically acceptable to protect them. Any specific screening program would have to fulfill all of our ethical prerequisites, which fully recognize the principle of respect for persons. We clearly stated that even if such a proposal were to pass ethical scrutiny, "the need to provide extra supervision for those who are seropositive does not warrant isolation, stigmatization, or the deprivation of services."In advocating the rights of mentally retarded people, Mr Tashjian appears to deny their sexuality. Like