As new diseases and medical conditions emerge, new community groups appear in the public health arena as consumer advocates or lobby groups seeking to affect policy or to represent ‘communities’ formed around these new diseases and conditions. The role of these groups in public health, their political status, and the extent to which they are actually representative are highly problematic for public health. These new constellations of social groups and activities challenge traditional ideas about public health decision-making and demand a rethinking of the constituency and limits of public health. Using discourse theory, symbolic interactionism, and ethological theory, the authors examine one case, exploring the perspectives of various communities on hepatitis C, and explore some issues that this raises for public health
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