Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Presidential candidates on HIV/AIDS

The presidential primaries are quickly approaching, and if you’re like me you still haven’t settled upon one specific candidate yet. The polls are tightening and right now there is no clear leader in either Party’s races. This is a good thing: it forces candidates to be very clear on important issues—and that particularly holds true for LGBT issues.

Our community has played a role in this presidential election that is unparalleled in our political history. LGBT issues have been front-and-center for both parties—in debates, speeches, town halls, etc. We have demanded that Democrats and Republicans articulate their positions on issues that are extremely important to our safety, happiness and health. And in many cases (most often in the case of Democratic candidates) we have been able to move candidates when we’ve felt that they haven’t been where they need to be on issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and legal recognition of our families.

One issue in particular, however, tends to get overshadowed by the headlines caused by sexier, more controversial issues such as gay marriage, LGBT people serving openly in the military and the need for a federal hate crimes bill. That issue is HIV/AIDS.

Numerous reports have recently stated that HIV infections are on the rise for young gay men and gay men of color. This is a problem that is not going away. New treatments have made it so that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, but it is still a very serious and lifelong disease. The next leader of this country needs to have a comprehensive plan for dealing with AIDS—not just globally, but also here in the United States.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis has just put out a report that very closely details where exactly each candidate for president stands on all issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS—from the strategies used to educate about prevention to subsidizing medicine for those who are already infected but cannot otherwise afford treatment. The report is reader-friendly and hopefully will help if you have not yet made up your mind on which candidate to support on Feb. 5, 2008 (for all New Yorkers).

The report was the subject of a recent front-page article in Gay City News. In it, Duncan Osborne discusses how bad Republicans are on HIV/AIDS related policies. Republicans—closely following the Bush Administration line—tend to support ideology-based solutions instead of the obviously more effective strategy of using science-based solutions (like teaching abstinence-only curriculum versus safe-sex practices in sex education classes).

We might also add that Republicans tend to want to talk about HIV/AIDS as being something "over there" (i.e., Africa where transmission is predominately due to heterosexual sex) instead of here at home where they deem transmission pathways as being too hot to talk about on the "Pollyanna" trail of a Presidential campaign.

As far as New York’s two presidential candidates are concerned, Hillary scores towards the top of the chart, ranking among the best candidates on HIV/AIDS issues. And Rudy dwells near the bottom with his fellow Republicans. He didn’t respond to the questionnaire provided by for evaluation on this report and his record on HIV/AIDS policy while mayor of New York City was never much to be proud of.

Download a PDF of the report here.

No comments: