n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - Child privacy rights : a 'Cinderella' issue in HIV-prevention research : forum

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1608-9693
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6751



Legal debates regarding child participation in HIV research have tended to focus on issues of informed consent. However, much less attention has been given to privacy; accordingly, we classify this as a 'Cinderella issue' that has been excluded from 'the ball' (academic debate). Here we argue that privacy issues are as important as consent issues in HIV-prevention research. We describe a child's right to privacy regarding certain health interventions in South African law, and identify four key norms that flow from the law and that could be applied to HIV-prevention research: () children cannot have an expectation of privacy regarding research participation if they have not given independent consent to the study; () children may have an expectation of privacy regarding certain components of the study, such as HIV testing, if they consent independently to such services; () children's rights to privacy in health research are limited by mandatory reporting obligations; () children's rights to privacy in HIV-prevention research may be justifiably limited by the concept of the best interests of the child. We conclude with guidelines for researchers on how to implement these principles in HIV-related research studies.

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