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date: 24 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) control is a core function of public health systems. “Control” refers to public health activities, such as surveillance and contact tracing, focused on preventing and treating STIs, including HIV. Control activities can curtail infection, but they also raise two important types of ethical concerns. The first is how to balance respect for individual liberties with maximizing population sexual health. The harm principle is one approach to navigating these trade-offs. The second is the ethical imperative to address disparities in STI disease outcomes, along with underlying disparities in access to STI information, prevention, and treatment. Both types of disparities map onto other cross-cutting issues of social justice, including poverty, gender, sexual orientation, race, and age. A human rights approach highlights inequalities and underlying structural determinants of health, with the goal of interrupting STI transmission and preventing future infection.

Keywords: public health ethics, sexually transmitted infections, harm principle, human rights, HIV, health disparities, STI control, sexual health, population health, sexual health

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