Mike Huckabee & AIDS

by John Hawkins | December 10, 2007 6:39 am

Mike Huckabee has caught a lot of heat for some comments he made back in 1992 about AIDS. Truthfully, I thought the reaction to what Huckabee said has been more than a little overwrought[1],

The Associated Press reported Saturday that as a candidate for the Senate in 1992, Huckabee said in response to a 229-question survey that he believed that AIDS patients should be isolated from the general public and that homosexuality was an “aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle” that posed a “dangerous public risk.”

Fear of AIDS spreading into the community were fairly widespread in the mid-1980s, but by the time Huckabee answered the survey, it was well-established that the virus could not be spread through casual contact.

When asked about AIDS research in 1992, Huckabee complained that it received an unfair share of federal dollars when compared to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

“An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor[,] Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research,” Huckabee wrote in 1992.

Huckabee said Saturday that his comments came at a time when “the AIDS crisis was just that — a crisis. … If I were making those same comments today, I might make them a little differently.”

He said that, at the time, he wanted public health authorities to treat AIDS like tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

That was why he wrote in 1992 that “it is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. 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.

“Medical protocol typically says that if you have a disease for which there is no cure, and you are uncertain about the transmission of it, then the first thing you do is that you quarantine or isolate carriers,” he wrote.

First of all, saying that “homosexuality (is) an “aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle” that posed a “dangerous public risk” shouldn’t be that controversial. The aberrant part is a given, as is the “dangerous public risk,” given that homosexual behavior, along with intravenous drug use is responsible for the overwhelming majority of AIDs cases in the US. As far as the “unnatural and sinful lifestyle” part goes, well, that’s what Christians believe. Sexually active, unmarried heterosexuals are engaging in “sinful behavior” as far as Christians are concerned, too.

When it comes to spending, we way, way, way overspend on AIDS compared to cancer and heart disease. I had trouble finding the most current data, but this info from 2004[2] gives you an idea of the staggering amount we spend on AIDS compared to other health problems,

Although AIDS cases and deaths are declining and the disease remains completely preventable, it nonetheless gets almost $180,000 in research funds per death from the National Institute of Health. Compare that to its closest rivals: Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, and diabetes. All of these receive about $14,000 per death. Alzheimers gets about $11,000.

As far as saying that “AIDS patients should be isolated from the general public” goes, that isn’t outrageous when you consider the incredible hype about AIDS that used to be put out in this country. It was every bit as bad as the global warming propaganda we get today — and then some.

Just to give you an example, back when I was in high school, I think this would have been in 1989, the teachers brought in a special counselor to our class who told us we could get AIDS from French kissing. Even back then, before I was political, I thought that didn’t sound right, so I asked how many cases they had confirmed of people getting AIDS from French kissing. The guy told me 1 — they thought.

But, that was just par for the course. Just a few years before that, in 1987, Oprah Winfrey said[3],

“Research studies now project that one in five — listen to me, hard to believe — one in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years. That’s by 1990. One in five. It is no longer just a gay disease. Believe me.”

You can say that the people knew that the disease wasn’t spread by casual contact back then, which is true, but they thought it was much easily transmitted through sexual contact than it turned out to be — at least here in the United States. In some African nations like Botswana and Nigeria, where more than 20% of the population has AIDS, I bet they wish they could go back in time and isolate everyone who had AIDS in their country back in 1992.

So, given the environment in the US in the years immediately preceding Huckabee’s written comments, Huckabee’s suggestion wasn’t very outrageous at all.

  1. more than a little overwrought: http://www.star-telegram.com/elections/story/349825.html
  2. info from 2004: http://www.fumento.com/disease/aidsenough.html
  3. Oprah Winfrey said: http://newsbusters.org/node/3765

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