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

V. K. Warren Tashjian
JAMA. 1987;257(10):1327-1328. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390100065012.
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To the Editor.—  In the Oct 3, 1986, JAMA article regarding the ethics of proposed screening programs for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),1 it appears the authors relied on myths and misinformation in writing that people with mental retardation may be candidates for mandatory screening.This suggestion is offensive even after examining rational arguments. The authors refer to various groups that should not be screened for antibody to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (the AIDS virus), because screening could cause the group to be stigmatized or isolated by society. In addition, they argue that screening violates human rights in a free society. The authors give ethical or practical grounds for not requiring screening for soldiers, criminals in prison, and prostitutes—groups without full autonomy or whose activity is not protected by the law.Bayer et al then express the opinion that individuals with mental retardation and those living in residential


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