Bush Wins Presidency, Statements to Date about HIV/AIDS
After more than a month of court battles that ended Tuesday night when the U.S. Supreme Court effectively stopped the manual recounts of ballots in Florida, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the presidency, following a concession speech from opponent Vice President Al Gore last night. The following is a summary of Bush's positions on issues related to HIV/AIDS:
- In a letter in response to questions posed by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, Bush said that the primary effort of his administration to fight this "urgent health problem" would be to "support significant government-funded research aimed at conquering" AIDS. He has "proposed doubling NIH's budget" to increase AIDS research and supports prevention campaigns and "programs like the Ryan White CARE Act" that address the epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/12).
- In another letter to Numedx, a quarterly HIV medical journal and Internet guide, Bush "promis[ed] to do [his] part" to fight AIDS if elected, and indicated his support for a "permanent extension of the research and development tax credit for pharmaceutical companies who are currently conducting research and development on drugs to combat AIDS." Bush also stated that he supported "increasing the funding to southern Africa to improve their ability to combat HIV, with certain safeguards to ensure the money the U.S. sends actually helps those in need" (Bush letter, 2000).
- An inquiry from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago prompted Bush to respond with a letter in which he states that he "do[es] not favor needle exchange programs and other so-called 'harm reduction' strategies to combat drug use." Stating that he does support "prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement and supply interdiction" to stop drug use, he wrote that needle-exchange programs "signal nothing but abdication." He also noted that he supports medical privacy legislation, saying that "every American should have absolute control over their personal information, particularly their highly sensitive medical, genetic and financial information" (Bush letter, October/2000).
- Early in the campaign, according to Time magazine, Bush promised he would allocate $135 million -- the same amount the government now spends on contraception programs -- to "elevate abstinence education from an afterthought to an urgent priority." As governor of Texas, Bush "poured" $6 million into abstinence education programs (Morse, Time, 10/18/99).
ACT UP Shows Opposition
ACT UP/Philadelphia, an AIDS activist group, protested against Bush during his campaign. The group first "demand[ed] that ... Bush take a stand against high [HIV] drug prices" at the Republican National Convention, when members of the group dropped a 30- by 75 foot banner, which read "BUSH AND DRUG COMPANY GREED KILLS -- GENERIC AIDS DRUGS FOR AFRICA NOW!," from a "highly visible" billboard in downtown Philadelphia, Pa., where the convention was being held. The group had earlier targeted Vice President Al Gore on the campaign trail, but activist Julie Davids stated, "We thought it was time to target Bush as well," adding, "Bush's supporters are the slumlords of Third World debt" (Getty, Bay Area Reporter, 8/3). In October, ACT UP held a rally outside Republican National Committee headquarters. About 500 protestors criticized Bush for his HIV/AIDS record in Texas, and said that a Bush presidency would have a negative effect on people living with HIV/AIDS (Kastellec, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16).