AIDSVote.org Releases Results of Presidential Candidate Survey on AIDS-Related Policy IssuesAIDSVote.org, an organization founded in 2003 to educate candidates and the public on AIDS issues, last week posted the results of a survey of 2004 presidential candidates, Gay.com/PlanetOut.com reports. President Bush, who is running for re-election, and Democratic presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton were the only candidates who did not respond to the survey, which was based on a model presidential platform endorsed by AIDS advocacy organizations. All of the six Democratic candidates who responded -- Sens. John Edwards (N.C.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean -- indicated support for an increase in federal funding for the Ryan White CARE Act and favored changing the federal government's ban on funding for needle-exchange programs. All six respondents also indicated that they opposed financial incentives to encourage abstinence-only sex education programs and would lift the funding bans imposed by the so-called "Mexico City" policy (Lisotta, Gay.com/PlanetOut.com, 1/27). The policy, which is also known as the "global gag rule," bars U.S. money from international groups that support abortion through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/2/03). In addition, all of the candidates indicated support for efforts to overturn a law barring HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country (AIDSVote.org release, 1/22).
Question on NIH Research
The only issue included in the survey upon which the candidates disagreed was federal investigations of peer-reviewed research projects funded by NIH. The question refers to a controversial investigation of research projects, including HIV and sex-related research, that were considered "politically sensitive," Gay.com/PlanetOut.com reports (Gay.com/PlanetOut.com, 1/27). In what many said was a mix-up, a congressional staff member in October 2003 requested that NIH give information on a list of more than 200 grants representing more than $100 million in funding instead of a shorter list of 10 grants that conservative House members had questioned for several months. The longer list was prepared by the Traditional Values Coalition, which says it represents 43,000 churches nationwide. As a result of the longer list being sent, NIH began calling researchers whose grants were on the list as part of a report for Congress on broad categories of grants (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30/03). In the survey, AIDSVote.org asked whether the candidates would support "the investigation of approved, peer-reviewed research projects" conducted through NIH. Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and Kucinich said "yes," while Clark and Dean said "no."
Michael Kink of Housing Works in New York said, "The candidates' responses illustrate their understanding of the critical leadership role the White House must play in the fight against AIDS," adding, "We hope this information will help the electorate understand that critical role as well." AIDSVote.org supporters and organizers were in New Hampshire on Monday in advance of Tuesday's primary in an effort to draw attention to the international AIDS crisis and domestic AIDS issues (Gay.com/PlanetOut.com, 1/27).