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May 11, 1994

HIV Testing, Counseling, and Prophylaxis After Sexual Assault

Author Affiliations

From the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, Boston, Mass, and the Georgetown/Johns Hopkins Program on Law and Public Health (Mr Gostin); Harvard School of Public Health (Ms Lazzarini), Harvard Medical School (Dr Brandt), and Beth Israel Hospital (Dr Silverman), Boston; National Victim Center, Arlington, Va (Ms Alexander); and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and Brown University, Providence (Dr Mayer).

JAMA. 1994;271(18):1436-1444. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510420068036

THE IMPACT of possible infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in survivors of sexual assault1 has received little attention in the first decade of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. This may be due in part to society's conflicting attitudes and beliefs concerning sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), AIDS, and rape. The meaning of STDs historically has been shaped by powerful social and cultural constructions. These diseases often have been viewed as the result of socially unacceptable sexuality, a morally based failure of impulse control by individuals, and fair punishment for transgressing societal norms.2,3 Similar moralistic reasoning often underlies the conventional wisdom concerning rape and AIDS. Rape, a violent crime where sex is used as a weapon, has been seen as the result of inappropriate seductive behavior or a sudden change of heart on the part of the victim who initially had consented to a sexual encounter.4

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