AIDS Policy and the Politics of Rights

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Book Chapter

Publication Date



AIDS, PUBLIC HEALTH, AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS In contrast to the emphasis upon the primacy of public health over the protection of individual rights in nineteenth-century America, AIDS exemplifies the shift toward rights in twentieth-century public health policy. “Rights-based concern has limited what American governments may do under the banner of promoting public health,” write David L. Kirp and Ronald Bayer, arguing that “reliance on the idea of civil rights [with regard to AIDS] has been an American exceptionalism.” As Ronald Bayer further explains: The volume and impact of court decisions related to AIDS and rights in the United States is surely significant, as is the frequency of AIDS-related rights assertion and its impact on AIDS policy. Unnoticed in the din about “American exceptionalism” is that the language of Japan's AIDS debate has come increasingly to resemble that in the United States. In Japan, the balance between the personal and the social, respect for individual rights versus protection of public health, has been explicitly debated in the process of formulating AIDS policy.

Publication Title

The Ritual of Rights in Japan