Just-Released Papers Show President Reagan Was Urged in 1985 to Mention AIDS in Speech, Washington Post Reports
Early references to the political implications of HIV/AIDS can be found among nearly 60,000 pages of documents from the Reagan administration that were released on Saturday, the Washington Post reports. For example, the documents contain a 1985 note from former White House Director of Communications Patrick Buchanan to former Chief of Staff Donald Regan citing statistics that 14,000 Americans had been infected with a "mysterious new disease called AIDS" and requesting that then-President Ronald Reagan address AIDS in a speech. Regan wrote in response at the bottom of the memo: "dangerous -- let's discuss." The Post says, "He doesn't mean the disease is dangerous. He's warning about the political risk" (Booth, Washington Post, 3/16). Reagan first publicly said the word "AIDS" during a 1987 speech at the Third International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/7/01).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.