Still playing end-of-year catch-up with grants and manuscripts so posting will be sporadic, but I’d be remiss not to mention this story regarding presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s past views on HIV/AIDS:
In 1992, Huckabee wrote, “If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.”
“It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”
“Medical protocol typically says that if you have a disease for which there is no cure, and you are uncertain about the transmission of it, then the first thing you do is that you quarantine or isolate carriers,” Huckabee said.
First, Huckabee stands by the comments he made at this time–which were as dumb in 1992 as they would be now. He argues that little was known about the transmission of HIV in 1992, but we certainly knew at that time that it wasn’t some kind of airborne virus that put everyone at risk just by being in the same room with someone who carried it. Additionally, he’s incredibly wrong about the history of medicine and isolation procedures as well: isolation has actually been a relatively rare phenomenon in the history of civilization, and it didn’t always work–the mode of transmission plays a huge role in determining whether isolation is even used, and whether it will be successful. Huckabee ignores this–ignorance on top of ignorance.
And he’s not done yet.
When asked about AIDS research in 1992, Huckabee complained that AIDS research received an unfair share of federal dollars when compared to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
“In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified,” Huckabee wrote. “An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research.”
Now, it could be argued that AIDS *does* receive an “unfair” share of federal money–the other diseases listed certainly cause more deaths in the U.S. But why bring in that model of funding? Because it’s a “Hollywood” disease? Or because it’s a “gay” disease? He mentions:
Also in the wide-ranging AP questionnaire in 1992, Huckabee said, “I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.”
Of course, *any* sexual lifestyle can pose a “dangerous public health risk”. Heterosexuals get sexually-transmitted infections too, including HIV/AIDS.
Huckabee said Saturday that his comments came at a time when “the AIDS crisis was just that _ a crisis. We didn’t know exactly all the details of how extensive it was going to be. There was just a real panic in this country. If I were making those same comments today, I might make them a little differently.” Yes, Mike, I’d advise you to make them more than a “little differently.” In fact, you should go farther and admit you were ignorant of the state of the science back in 1992 as well, and that we knew a lot more details than you suggest. I know politics today is all about standing firm and never admitting any wrongs, but this is ridiculous. I don’t expect him to own up, and I unfortunately expect that many evangelicals would still agree with his stance on homosexuality and HIV, but his statements on isolation are extreme even by 1992 standards–and it isn’t enough to say that he’d say things “a little differently” today and write off all the criticisms to “political correctness.”