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Blood on His Hands - Ronald Reagan and the AIDS Crisis

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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 05:58 PM
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Blood on His Hands - Ronald Reagan and the AIDS Crisis
Edited on Sat Jun-05-04 06:07 PM by Stephanie



Some of you are too young too remember this. If Reagan had acted to stem the AIDS crisis early on, as he was BEGGED to do, literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of lives could have been saved.



<snip - the AID crisis began in 1981 but Reagan refused to speak about it until 1987>

The Reagan administrations reaction to AIDS is complex and goes far beyond Reagans refusal to speak out about the epidemic. A great deal of his power base was born-again Christian Republican conservatives who embraced a reactionary social agenda that included a virulent, demonizing homophobia. In the media, people like Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell portrayed gay people as diseased sinners and promoted the idea that AIDS was a punishment from God and that the gay rights movement had to be stopped. In the Republican Party, zealous right-wingers, such as Representative William Dannenmeyer (CA) and Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), hammered home this same message. In the Reagan White House, people such as Secretary of Education William Bennett and Gary Bauer, his chief domestic advisor, worked to enact it in the Administrations policies.

In practical terms this meant AIDS research was chronically underfunded. When doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Health asked for more funding for their work on AIDS, they were routinely denied it. Between June 1981 and May 1982, the CDC spent less than $1 million on AIDS, but $9 million on Legionnaires Disease. At that point over 1,000 of the 2,000 AIDS cases reported resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaires Disease. This drastic lack of funding would continue through the Reagan years.

<snip - Jesse Helms prevents funding of "safe sex" education, George HW Bush calls for mandatory AIDS testing>

Throughout all of this Ronald Reagan did nothing. When Rock Hudson, a friend and colleague of the Reagans, was diagnosed and died in 1985 (one of the 20,740 cases reported that year), Reagan still did not speak out. []bWhen family friend William F. Buckley, in a March 18, 1986 New York Times article, called for mandatory testing of HIV and said that HIV+ gay men should have this information forcibly tattooed on their buttocks (and IV drug users on their arms), Reagan said nothing. In 1986 (after five years of complete silence) when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released a report calling for AIDS education in schools, Bennett and Bauer did everything possible to undercut and prevent funding for Koops too-little too-late initiative. By the end of 1986, 37,061 AIDS cases had been reported; 16,301 people had died.

The most memorable Reagan AIDS moment was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagans were there sitting next to the French Prime Minister and his wife, Francois and Danielle Mitterrand. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners, Hope quipped, I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS, but she doesnt know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy. As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterrands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United Statesmore then 70,000 of them had died.

The Truth About Reagan And AIDS, By Michael Bronski

http://www.zmag.org/ZMagSite/Jan2004/bronskipr0104.html
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happyending Donating Member (294 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. I remember...
lots of people died. Lots.
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Moderator DU Moderator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 06:06 PM
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2. Locking.
We are trying to consolidate some of the Reagan
threads. Please continue the discussion here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&a...

Thank you for understanding.


DU Moderator
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