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Article Title

Editor's Note

Abstract

On occasion, the New England Journal of Public Policy will devote an entire issue to consideration of a public policy matter of major importance. The AIDS epidemic is such a matter, with a likely impact of overwhelming consequence well into the twenty-first century. The epidemic raises fundamental questions regarding the nature of individual freedom, our responsibilities to others, the always delicate balance between private rights and the public interest, and society's obligation to its "out" groups — whose members it has stigmatized, discriminated against, ridiculed, and treated as less than full and equal citizens. Indeed, it requires us to ask whether society can discharge its responsibilities in this regard without discarding some of its essential myths about itself.

These are questions which in the best of times we tend to avoid, because they raise issues about the nature of our most deeply rooted fears and anxieties and the role of repression and denial in the conduct of private morality and public affairs — issues that we find discomforting at best and highly disconcerting at worst.

There is hardly an area of public policy that does not fall within the purview of the epidemic, and as the extent of infection and the illnesses associated with it multiply geometrically over the coming years, our cultural, social, religious, educational, financial, and political networks and institutions will be called upon to examine their practices and policies and to address what is found wanting. The purpose of this issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy is partly to facilitate that task.

 

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