The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has raised perplexing ethical and public policy dilemmas. Early in the epidemic, closing of bathhouses, testing blood donors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and notifying seropositive blood donors evoked passionate controversies. Current dilemmas include testing and using promising new treatments, notifying partners of seropositive persons, and, most recently, restricting the clinical activities of seropositive health,care workers who perform invasive procedures.
These dilemmas about HIV infection involve scientific judgments, cultural norms, and social values. In the HIV epidemic, public rhetoric and political pressure have been prominent. On the one hand, some persons have launched moralistic crusades against homosexuals and injection drug users. For these persons, AIDS symbolizes the breakdown of traditional family values and the social order. On the other hand, some advocates for persons with HIV infection have used confrontational tactics such as sit-ins and disruptive demonstrations.