Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Domestic, International HIV/AIDS Issues During Debate
Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday at Howard University discussed domestic and international HIV/AIDS issues in their third televised debate, the New York Times reports. During the 90-minute debate, which was moderated by PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) criticized the White House for its response to the increasing rate of HIV cases among black Americans. Clinton said that if HIV/AIDS were the "leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country." Clinton added that if the issue is not addressed, the U.S. will "never get the services and the public education that [it] need[s]" (Nagourney/Zeleny, New York Times, 6/28).
According to the Washington Post, former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) proposed a three-part plan to curb HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The plan includes searching for a cure, funding treatment for all HIV-positive people and guaranteeing that HIV/AIDS treatments are covered by Medicaid. Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said that a universal health care system is needed to ensure that all people receive access to treatment regardless of economic circumstances (Balz/Kornblut, Washington Post, 6/29). Obama attributed the high rate of HIV cases among blacks to stigma surrounding the virus in black communities, the Baltimore Sun reports. "We don't talk about this," Obama said, adding, "We don't talk about it in the schools. Sometimes we don't talk about it in the churches. It has been an aspect of sometimes our homophobia that we don't address these issues as clearly as it needs to be" (West, Baltimore Sun, 6/29).
Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) encouraged people to be tested for HIV. He added that he has worked with the black community to try to "get black men to understand it is not unmanly to wear a condom" and to get black women to "understand they can say no" (Finnegan/Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 6/29). Obama also said that he and his wife have received HIV tests together (Washington Post, 6/29). According to the Los Angeles Times, most of the candidates agreed that the U.S. should increase funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said that White House spending on global HIV/AIDS programs is "relatively impressive" (Los Angeles Times, 6/29).
The Democratic debate will be followed by a companion debate for Republican presidential candidates, scheduled for Sept. 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, the Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 6/29).
Video of the debate is available online. Segments of the debate during which candidates discussed HIV/AIDS issues are available online at kaisernetwork.org.