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Ethical issues in research on control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: report from a workshop of the World Federation of Scientists, Erice, Sicily, Italy, 22-24 August 2003



In research on control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic there are many ethical issues to be considered. The problem of personal autonomy versus the interest of society to prevent the spread of the disease in various settings makes it difficult to follow the regulations of the Declaration of Helsinki in all respects. This is particularly clear in the evaluation of trials aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The interest of the child does not always conform to the policy of avoiding stigmatization of the mother. Conclusion: Programmes for the implementation of antiretroviral therapy and vaccine trials may differ in countries with different mean incomes of the inhabitants, and are also influenced by local patterns. For this reason, the Declaration of Helsinki should be changed in such a way that it conforms with the ways in which it may be possible to combat such a disastrous epidemic as that caused by HIV

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