Michael Crawford

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on HIV/AIDS

Filed By Michael Crawford | May 01, 2008 11:05 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Democrats, gay men's health, Hillary Rodham Clinton, HIV/AIDS

The AIDS epidemic has received scant attention so far in the election cycle even in the gay media. Rather than pressing the candidates forcefully and directly about how they will advance GLBT issues if elected to the presidency, we have too often allowed ourselves to be distracted by pink versions of the flag lapel pin pseudo controversy like Pansy-gate.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did a recent interview with the NC gay paper Q Notes in advance of the May 6 primary. While the interviews covered a wide range of issues important to GLBT people, I want to spotlight their responses to questions about AIDS.

Share your thoughts on their answers in the comments section.

BARACK OBAMA

According to the CDC, men who have sex with men account for nearly 50 percent of all new HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. Despite this, many in the gay community feel that the government continues to turn a blind eye to the crisis. How will you strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and funding relative to gay men, in particular?

SENATOR OBAMA: Fighting the HIV / AIDS crisis requires a comprehensive approach. Here are some of the most important steps that I will take as President:

(1) I will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. It will include measurable goals, timelines and accountability mechanisms.

(2) Awareness and education are key to fighting this disease. In Illinois, I passed legislation to require public service announcements promoting HIV/AIDS screening. As president, I will continue to increase awareness of the disease. I will work to enact and implement the REAL Act, which will promote age-appropriate education for young people that will include a safe-sex message and science-based health information alongside education about abstinence and responsible behavior.

(3) I will work to secure full funding for the Ryan White Care Act to support state and local health-care and prevention programs, including those specifically targeted to gay men.

(4) I will promote condom distribution -- for example with the JUSTICE Act, which will make condoms available to incarcerated men so as to combat the spread of HIV in our prisons.

(5) Under my administration, the health needs of the LGBT community will receive explicit and serious attention.

HILLARY CLINTON

According to the CDC, men who have sex with men account for nearly 50 percent of all new HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. Despite this, many in the gay community feel that the government continues to turn a blind eye to the crisis. How will you strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and funding relative to gay men, in particular?

I have proposed a comprehensive plan to address HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world. I have promoted increased funding for the Ryan White program, sought to expand Medicaid eligibility to people living with HIV, and worked to help youth gain access to scientifically accurate information about HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. As President, I will work to tie all of these efforts together and bring federal agencies to the table to develop a single, comprehensive national strategy, which will allow for better cooperation among programs that have been underfunded and downgraded during the Bush Administration. Also, under my health care plan, every single American, including Americans living with HIV, will have access to quality, affordable health care. My plan will prohibit insurance companies from discriminating people based on pre-existing conditions.

I will also work to halt and reverse the recent increase in infection rates among gay men, young people, and people of color. I will seek to address the factors that contribute to high risk behavior, such as the use of drugs like crystal meth, which is impacting both rural and urban areas, and the use of which is on the rise in the gay community. I was a proud co-sponsor of the Combat Meth Act of 2005, which was signed into law on March 9, 2006. This law tightens restrictions on how pseudoephedrine is sold to ensure that it is not being trafficked, and provides resources for prevention, education, and treatment. As President, I will work to see that this law is implemented effectively.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 1, 2008 12:01 PM

In reading the above does it not strike you that Obama is speaking in "bullet points" and Hillary is speaking in terms of inter governmental programs? I mention this because I would vote for either of them, but I must admit that I would expect Hillary to get more accomplished.

Being ten years old when JFK died brought me to a realization about the difference between style and substance. Had it not been for LBJ the programs Kennedy desired would not have gone through congress. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco Kennedy, had he not been killed in 1963, could have easily been a one term president.

Through the rear view mirror of nostalgic "Camelot" historians he has been portrayed as more popular than he actually was. He could have lost reelection because of the Cuban Missile Crisis being resolved in a stalemate or the beginnings of our involvement in Vietnam.

Anyway, to me, Obama is like a really great looking pair of shoes, and Hillary is like those shoes the nuns used to wear. You know which one can get up a steep hill by just looking at the shoe.

i was more impressed with obama's response. he actually mentions specific policies he wants to promote, while hillary essentially just says she is out to "develop a single, comprehensive national strategy" but doesn't say what it is. obama's strategy is laid out; he said exactly what he is behind.

i also like that obama stayed focused on m4m - while hillary kept taking the issue off to her national health care plan and the meth legislation, neither of which are specific to us. granted, none of the policies obama said he supports are specific to us either, but he kept focused in his responses on how the policies benefit us.

hillary's response just felt more like "politics as usual" to me - say something that's full of nice ideas but vague, then when you get elected you can claim that half of everything you do falls under your campaign promises.

They both sound good, but I'm not an expert on HIV/AIDS policy. I so wish we had one of those here at TBP....

JK Johnson | May 1, 2008 8:39 PM

Alex,

I believe you do have a couple of experts on HIV/AIDS. It is just difficult to always be heard without sounding shrill. Barack Obama's five point message seems reasonable until he says "alongside education about abstinence." That is so Goddamn stupid! Hilary's message is broad too, but I do believe she knows what she is talking about because, if you'll remember, she delayed the passage of the Ryan White CARE Act last year (it finally passed in December) because she was working her heart out for her New York costituents. She succeeded and funding was restored to New York. That's what a Senator or Representative is supposed to do--represent their districts or states well.

I agree with some of the other posts that we have to come together. After Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky or whatever primaries and even the convention, we must unite behaind Barack or Hillary. McCain would be a total disaster for HIV/AIDS in this Country, for the Supreme Court, for the fiscal welfare of this Country and in so many other ways.

I am more than willing to be an advocate for HIV/AIDS planning in the United States. It has been sorely neglected here and abroad. The PEPFAR bullshit is all about abstinence and malaria and somewhat about HIV/AIDS for a very few countries. It sounds good until you look into the program. PEPFAR may be Bush's only legacy, but requiring 50% of the funds that actually reach their destination for abstinence is so wrong. Africans are not going to stop fucking anymore than anyone else.

JK Johnson | May 1, 2008 9:30 PM

Here's a comment from a prominent HIV/AIDS Magazine called Positively Aware:

Abstinence and condoms
Speaking of AIDS Clinical Care, kudos to Associate Editor Carlos del Rio, MD, of Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, for a witty turn of phrase in his editorial comments. Looking at study results showing that abstinence programs do not effectively prevent risks from sexual contacts here in the U.S., he noted that, “In the end, abstinence vows break more than condoms do!”

It's a long way from ACT UP's protests of Bill Clinton's bus tour, isn't it? We followed it and at each stop we'd shout "What about AIDS?!?"

The same thing could be said this election year.

JK,

Maybe it's just me, but abstinence does need to be discussed, in the educactional setting, as the preferred and most effective prevention option. Just ask any parent who finds out their 12 and 13 year olds are sexually active. Teaching about abstinence alongside responsible behavior and sexual education is actually good. Abstinence only programs aren't effective, but an all encompassing, cover all your basis approach is proven to work. This is how my sexual education programs were run, along with a slideshow of STD photos...

JK Johnson | May 2, 2008 2:55 PM

Matt W,

Yes, I think it's just you [lol]. Abstinence does not need to be taught with PEPFAR or precious Ryan White funding. Abstinence should be taught at home and in the churches, temples, mosques, and can certainly be mentioned as part of sex education, but spending billions of scarce dollars teaching abstinence to people who aren't informed what causes infectious diseases is a waste of money, in my humble opinion.