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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - What Causes Aids—and What Does Not?, Reading, Writing, And Aids, Aids And The Federal Government

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A disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that produces disorders and infections that can lead to death.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a fatal disease that attacks the body's immune system making it unable to resist infection, is caused by the human immunodeficiency

virus (HIV), which is communicable in some bodily fluids and transmitted primarily through sexual behavior and intravenous drug use.

The United States struggled to cope with AIDS from the early 1980s until the late 1990s, when new drug therapies started to extend the length and quality of life for many people with AIDS. Since the beginning, AIDS and its resulting epidemic in the United States have raised a great number of legal issues, which are made all the more difficult by the nature of the disease. AIDS is a unique killer, but some of its aspects are not: epidemics have been seen before; other sexually transmitted diseases have been fatal. AIDS is different because it was discovered in—and in the United States still predominantly afflicts—unpopular social groups: gay men and drug users. This fact has had a strong impact on the shaping of AIDS law. Law is often shaped by politics, and AIDS is a highly politicized disease. The challenge in facing an epidemic that endangers everyone is complicated by the stigma attached to the people most likely to be killed by it.

Epidemics have no single answer beyond a cure. Since no cure for AIDS existed as of the early 2000s, the law continued to grapple with a vast number of problems. The federal government has addressed AIDS in two broad ways: by spending money on research and treatment of the disease and by prohibiting unfairness to people with HIV or AIDS. It has funded medical treatment, research, and public education, and it has passed laws prohibiting discrimination against people who are HIV-positive or who have developed AIDS. States and local municipalities have joined in these efforts, sometimes with federal help. In addition, states have criminalized the act of knowingly transmitting the virus through sexual behavior or blood donation. The courts, of course, are the decision makers in AIDS law. They have heard a number of cases in areas that range from employment to education and from crimes to TORTS. Although a body of case law has developed, it remains relatively new with respect to most issues and controversial in all.

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