Florida State Senator Angers AIDS Activists by Saying People With HIV/AIDS Had ‘Choice’ in Contracting Disease
Florida State Sen. Howard Futch (R) "angered" AIDS activists on Thursday when he argued against taking money allocated to build a center for people with Alzheimer's disease and diverting it to services for people with AIDS, saying the Legislature was "dealing with people who didn't want to be this way, as opposed to the lifestyle of the people who did," the AP/Tallahassee Democrat reports. "He's sending a message that some peoples' lives have lesser values than others," Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a state-level human rights organization, said. Smith added that her organization plans to ask Futch for a clarification of his comments. Futch said later that he did not intend his remarks as an "insult" to people with HIV/AIDS. "I was talking about Alzheimer's disease. Those people have absolutely no choice whatsoever as opposed to the AIDS people. In many cases, they do have a choice with their lifestyle. OK? It's that simple," he said. Sen. Ron Silver (D), the state Senate's "top budget writer" for health and human services, has proposed diverting the money from the construction project to HIV/AIDS services because the construction project is likely to be vetoed by Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who has vetoed local construction projects in the past. "It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to put money into this budget which we're not going to be able to utilize," Silver said (AP/Tallahassee Democrat, 3/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.