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January 24, 1996

Ethical and Legal Issues in AIDS Research

Author Affiliations

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Montreal, Quebec

JAMA. 1996;275(4):329-330. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530280081050

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This book addresses the difficult ethical and legal issues involved in conducting psychosocial research on the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Because the disease has primarily affected people belonging to groups who have suffered discrimination and stigmatization—such as gay men, the poor, and those who engage in drug use (an illegal activity)—many living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or AIDS are reluctant to seek treatment and counseling or to participate in research projects.

The authors describe the need to handle the cases and records of research participants with extreme care, and they explore the broader implications of conducting socially sensitive research. They begin with a thorough and well-argued exploration of the risks and benefits of doing research on HIV/AIDS for researchers, the public, and participants. They illustrate a point that is seldom given due emphasis in discussions of research ethics: researchers have substantial conflicts of interest, and the more important