Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a growing epidemic that may surpass the ravages of any plague in human history.
We extend compassion to all who have acquired this disease by whatever means. We urge the provision of medical care for them to the same degree that patients with other life-threatening diseases receive it.
Christian physicians and dentists, following the example of Christ, should care for HIV-infected persons even at the risk of their own lives.
We encourage all health care workers to do the same. In keeping with its historical precedents (e.g., the establishment of hospitals and orphanages), we urge the Church to become involved with the development of new health care ministries to provide compassionate care for persons with AIDS. They need the hope and peace that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can give them.
We call for public health policies that balance patient confidentiality with protection of the uninfected. We urge screening of high-risk groups and sexual contact tracing of persons who are HIV-positive for both treatment and prevention of further transmission of infection. We encourage all health care workers to take reasonable precautions in caring for all patients.
Failure to inform one's sexual partner or any other person who may be exposed that one is HIV-positive is morally reprehensible, as is discrimination against an identified HIV-positive person. We believe that the interests of the uninfected have priority over the autonomy and confidentiality of patients who are HIV-positive and persist in high risk behavior. Physicians, dentists, and public health officials have a duty to warn in such life-threatening situations.
CMDA reaffirms the sanctity of marriage and deplores non-marital sexual intercourse, homosexual practices, and IV drug use, which account for the vast majority of AIDS cases.
Family life teaching and sexual education are God-given responsibilities of parents. The Church's task is to assist both parents and youth in understanding their sexuality in the context of biblical values. Sexual education in these and all other settings should include risk behavior information and instruction on protective techniques to inhibit the spread of AIDS and all other sexually transmitted diseases. Education and protective techniques alone, however, will not stop the spread of AIDS.
Our society needs to understand and acknowledge that there are compelling emotional, philosophical, medical, sociological and historical reasons for practicing abstinence before marriage and for fidelity within marriage. Since God has designed sexual intercourse for monogamous heterosexual marriage alone, and since this form of sexual practice will ultimately help to solve this problem, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations call our world to affirm biblical sexual morals.
Approved by the House of Delegates
April 29, 1988. Seattle, Washington.