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Guest Editors' introduction
For this special issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics we have assembled articles that reflect some of the newer issues or fresh perspectives. There is a mix of approaches including forward looks, present dilemmas and reflections on the past, now that sufficient time has elapsed to allow a considered view. We are most grateful to our wide range of contributors for their thoughtful analyses of several key areas of contemporary debate. Our own contributions include the following editorials in which each of us has considered, from his own perspective, the impact of AIDS on medical ethics, a case study and a lexicon that allows brief probing of some topics.
The impact of aids on medical ethics -1
ANTHONY J PINCHING
Medical ethics has been matured through being tested and refined through the multifaceted challenge of AIDS. As with the society and social values from which its moral framework is derived, so medical ethics has been subjected to intense scrutiny by the emergence of this new disease. Few areas of ethical discourse have been untouched. This infection is so intensely private in its transmission, the disease so isolating and so personally devastating in its impact, it readily distinguishes the reality of what people are and do, from the rhetoric of what others may feel they should be and do. AIDS has forced us to recognise that respecting individual rights is a critical safeguard for the health of the community, as well as for the person. These issues are well illustrated by the interweaving issues of patient empowerment, respect for confidentiality, and patient advocacy and activism.
Physicians in this field have been struck by the way in which people affected have wanted to be involved in decision making. While this has often been ascribed to their social groups, it probably was more a reflection of their younger age and a generation change …
Editor's note Professor Pinching, Professor Higgs and Dr Boyd are guest editors of this special issue of the journal which is devoted to the subject of medical ethics, AIDS and HIV.
Anthony J Pinching is Louis Freedman Professor of Immunology and Fellow, Department of Human Science and Medical Ethics, St Bartholomew's and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary & Westfield College, West Smithfield London EC1A 7BE. Roger Higgs is Professor of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, 10, Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ. Kenneth M Boyd is Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics, Edinburgh University Medical School and Research Director, Institute of Medical Ethics.