AIDS Advocate Says U.S. Conference on AIDS Overshadowed by ‘Bush Bashing,’ Washington Times Reports
The United States Conference on AIDS, which was held Sept. 18-21 in New Orleans, was "marred by 'Bush bashing,'" according to a long-time AIDS advocate, the Washington Times reports. The conference included criticism of the Bush administration and programs on how to "thwar[t]" federally mandated abstinence education, according to the Times. "There were a lot of things that went on there this year that were politicized. I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I don't have any political affiliation other than the AIDS crisis," David Miller, a founding member of ACT UP/New York, said. The closing plenary luncheon of the conference featured an entertainer who "boasted that she had sexual relations with Vice President Dick Cheney," according to the Times. Bill Pierce, an HHS spokesperson, said, "This kind of behavior and action, it's not smart. It distracts from the focus of reducing AIDS in America." However, Carole Bernard, director of communications for the National Minority AIDS Council, which sponsored the conference, said that the audience enjoyed the performance, based on evaluation forms filled out at the conclusion of the session. The conference also included a workshop that "provided a blueprint to get abstinence education defunded and out of schools," according to the Times. Bernard said that NMAC supports abstinence but that "the workshops focused on certain realities that exist today, which prompt examining other options for keeping people healthy and safe." Bernard also said that she was not aware of any "Bush bashing" at the conference, adding, "[T]hat was certainly not our agenda." The conference received at least $300,000 in funding from several HHS agencies, including the CDC, the Office of AIDS Research, and the Health Resources Services Administration, as well as support from USAID and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (McCain, Washington Times, 10/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.