HIV/AIDS Advocates Call on Huckabee To Meet With Mother of Ryan White
The Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS Institute on Tuesday sent a letter to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, asking him to meet with the mother of Ryan White to discuss comments he made in 1992 about people living with HIV/AIDS, the AP/Forbes reports (Sidoti, AP/Forbes, 12/11).
Huckabee -- who made the statements in an Associated Press survey while running for Senate in 1992 -- wrote that in order for the federal government to effectively address the spread of HIV, "we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague." He added in the survey, "It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents." Huckabee in the survey also said that HIV/AIDS research was receiving too much federal funding.
Huckabee in an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox News Sunday" said, "I still believe this today" that "we were acting more out of political correctness" in responding to HIV/AIDS. "I don't run from it, I don't recant it," he said of his statements in 1992. He added that his comments were not meant as a call to quarantine HIV-positive people. Huckabee said that he would state his position "a little differently" today (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10).
Jeanne White-Ginder -- the mother of the late Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who died of AIDS-related causes in 1990 at age 18 -- on Monday in an interview with the Associated Press called Huckabee's comments "alarming" and "completely beyond comprehension." She added that she wants to meet with Huckabee to discuss his 1992 comments. White-Ginder said that it is "very important to me that we don't live in the darkness," when people thought HIV was transmitted through casual contact, such as "kissing, tears, sweat and saliva." She added, "We have to treat this disease like a disease, and like Ryan always said, not like a dirty word" (AP/Forbes, 12/11).
There was nothing "politically correct" about Huckabee's 1992 remarks, a Washington Post editorial says, adding that his proposal "would have required a strong, and scary, element of coercion: Who would voluntarily be tested knowing that the price of a positive result could be 'isolation' from society?" According to the Post, it is a "[s]mall wonder" that Huckabee's "impulse to segregate" people living with HIV/AIDS from the general population was "shared only by those on the fringes of the American right." A Huckabee spokesperson on Monday said his views have evolved and that he is "trying to walk the line between compassion and honesty," the Post says. However, by refusing to "recant" his statements, Huckabee "fails to lay to rest legitimate doubts about his objectivity and fair-mindedness when it comes to the rights and interests of gays and lesbians, and the public health concerns of everyone," the editorial concludes (Washington Post, 12/11).