Huckabee Says He Is Willing To Meet With Family of Ryan White
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, on Tuesday said that he is "very willing" to meet with the mother of Ryan White, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS Institute on Tuesday sent a letter to Huckabee asking him to meet with White's mother to discuss comments he made in 1992 about people living with HIV/AIDS.
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.
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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/11).
Huckabee on Tuesday said that if he met with White's family, he would "tell them that we've come a long way in research and treatment, and I certainly never would want to say anything that would be hurtful to them or anybody else." He added that he would have "great regret and anxiety if I thought my comments were hurtful or in any way added to the already incredible pain that families have felt, regardless of how they contracted AIDS."
Huckabee did not comment on his current thinking about HIV/AIDS, according to the Times. A statement issued by his campaign last month said that HIV/AIDS care domestically and abroad should be increased (Los Angeles Times, 12/12). In addition, during a recent trip to New Hampshire, Huckabee said that he supports the Bush administration's proposal to double global HIV/AIDS funding. He added that he does not want to neglect other diseases. "I want to make sure that when we look at a disease -- whether it is AIDS, diabetes or cancer -- we look at it from the macro perspective, and we don't just single out one thing that affects, in America, you know, about 5,000 people a year," Huckabee said. According to CDC, there were 42,514 new HIV cases and 13,064 AIDS-related deaths in 2004 (Kranish, Boston Globe, 12/12).