n South African Journal on Human Rights - The ethics of routine HIV testing : a respect-based analysis

Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Routine testing is a practice whereby medical professionals ask all patients whether they would like an HIV test, regardless of whether there is anything unique to a given patient that suggests the presence of HIV. In three respects I aim to offer a fresh perspective on the debate about whether a developing country with a high rate of HIV infection morally ought to adopt routine testing. First, I present a neat framework that organises the moral issues at stake, bringing out the basic principles involved and exhibiting their logical relationships. Second, appealing to the Kantian principle of respect for the dignity of persons, I offer a thorough justification for routine testing when it serves as a gateway to anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Third, I present a respect-based defence of the controversial and novel thesis that routine testing is morally justified even if ART is unaffordable or otherwise unavailable.

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