Huckabee Will Not 'Recant' 1992 Comments On HIV/AIDS

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FormerArkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidentialnomination, on Sunday said that he will not "recant" statements madein 1992 in which he called for people living with HIV/AIDS to be isolated fromthe general population, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. Huckabee -- who made thestatements in an Associated Press survey while running for Senatethat year -- wrote that in order for the federal government to effectivelyaddress the spread of HIV, "we need to take steps that would isolate thecarries of this plague." He added in the survey, "It is the first timein the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague havenot been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly diseasefor which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead ofthe true health crisis it represents" (AP/InternationalHerald Tribune,12/9).

Huckabee in the 1992 survey also said that HIV/AIDS research was receiving toomuch federal funding, The Politico reports. "In light of theextraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seemthat additional federal spending can be justified," Huckabee wrote. "Analternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities -- such asElizabeth Taylor, Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding --be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amountsfor AIDS research," he added (Allen, The Politico, 12/8). Inaddition, Huckabee in the survey said that homosexuality was an "aberrant,unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous publichealth risk," the WashingtonPostreports.

Campaign Response

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Huckabee's campaign onSaturday released a statement from him saying that in 1992 there was confusionover how HIV is transmitted. "We now know that the virus that causes AIDSis spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB,"Huckabee said in the statement, adding, "But looking back almost 20 years,my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population -- if we got itwrong, many people would die needlessly." Huckabee also pledged to makethe fight against HIV/AIDS a central part of his presidency if elected (Bacon, WashingtonPost, 12/9). Huckabee in the statement released Saturday added that his"concern was safety first, political correctness last." Huckabeeresponded to the 1992 Associated Press survey after it was"well established" that HIV could not be spread through casualcontact, the New York Times reports (Luo, New York Times,12/9). In addition, Huckabee responded to the 1992 survey more than one yearafter President George H.W. Bush called on Congress to "get on with thejob of passing a law" to prohibit discrimination against people livingwith HIV/AIDS, according to the AP/Herald Tribune. AlthoughHuckabee acknowledged the prevailing scientific view in 1992, and since, thatHIV is not transmitted through casual contact, he said he was not certain atthe time. Huckabee cited a 1991 report of a dentist who infected a patient withHIV -- an "extraordinary case that highlighted the risk of infectionthrough contact with blood or bodily fluids" -- according to the AP/HeraldTribune.

Huckabee in an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox News Sunday" said, "I still believe this today" that "we wereacting more out of political correctness" in responding to HIV/AIDS. "Idon't run from it, I don't recant it," he said of his statements in 1992. Headded that his comments were not meant as a call to quarantine HIV-positivepeople. "I didn't say we should quarantine," Huckabee said, addingthat his idea was not to "lock people up" (AP/InternationalHerald Tribune, 12/9). Huckabee added that he would state his position"a little differently" today, the Wall Street Journalreports (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 12/10).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.

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