Sens. Obama, Brownback Speak at Conference on Religion, HIV/AIDS Pandemic
Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Friday spoke at a conference hosted by Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., to address the role of religion in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reports (Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 12/2). Rick Warren, an author and the founding pastor the church, invited Obama to participate in the conference. The scheduled speech from Obama drew criticism from some conservative Christian radio hosts and pundits, as well as some evangelical preachers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/1). Obama in his speech to more than 2,072 church leaders from 39 states and 18 countries said that he "respectfully but unequivocally" disagrees with people who oppose distributing condoms to reduce the spread of HIV and that churches must provide "a moral framework with a faith basis" to help people make decisions. "We can't ignore the fact that abstinence and fidelity, although the ideal, may not always be the reality -- that we're dealing with flesh and blood men and women and not abstractions, and that if condoms and, potentially, things like microbicides, can prevent millions of deaths, then they should be made more widely available," he said, adding, "I don't think that we can deny that there is a moral and spiritual component to prevention, that in too many places all over the world where HIV/AIDS is prevalent -- including, by the way, right here in the United States -- the relationship between men and women, between sexuality and spirituality, has broken down and needs to be repaired." In addition, Obama applauded the Bush administration's funding of HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries. "The administration and this Congress have been serious about putting resources in contributing to the fight against HIV and AIDS," Obama said. "I've got two friends here, a Republican and a Democrat. Why? Because you've got to have two wings to fly," Warren said. According to Brownback, Democrats and Republicans must "reach across the aisle" to combat HIV/AIDS. "There's nothing political about dealing with ... global HIV," Brownback said. Obama, Brownback and Warren after their speeches received HIV tests (Los Angeles Times, 12/2). "The idea that in some places, nine in 10 people with HIV have no idea they're infected is more than frightening -- it's a ticking time bomb waiting to go off," Obama said, adding, "So we need to show people that just as there is no shame in going to the doctor for a blood test ... there is no shame in going for an HIV test" (Xinhuanet, 12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.