(Note: no repudiation of his anti-gay sentiments).
“In the late 80’s and early 90’s we were still learning about the virus that causes AIDS. My concern, as a Senate candidate at the time, was to deal with the virus using the same public health protocols that medical science and public health professionals would use with any infectious disease.
Before a disease can be cured and contained we need to know exactly how and with near certainty what level of contact transmits the disease. There was still too much confusion about HIV transmission in those early years. Recall that in 1991, Kimberly Bergalis testified in front of Congress after contracting HIV from her dentist, and that summer a study was published showing that HIV was transmitted through breastmilk more easily than had been thought. But the federal government provided some guidelines: Also in 1991 the Centers for Disease Control recommended restrictions on the practice of HIV-positive health care workers.
At the time, there was widespread concern over modes of transmission and the possibility of epidemic. In the absence of conclusive data, my focus was on efforts to limit the exposure of the virus, following traditional medical practices developed from our public health experience and medical science in dealing with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
We now know that the virus that causes AIDS is spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB. But looking back almost 20 years, my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population – if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly. My concern was safety first, political correctness last.
My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals. We must prevent new infections and provide more accessible care. We must do everything possible to transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality.
Furthermore, I am proud that the United States has led the global battle against HIV/ AIDS. We have both a strategic interest as the world's only superpower and a moral obligation as the world's richest country to continue to do so until this scourge is a memory.
I supported the current Administration’s proposal to double our initial commitment from $15 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has already done an extraordinary amount of good, by providing drugs for over a million people and care for four-and-a-half million people, but it expires in 2008 and must be reauthorized. I support an increase in our commitment to the Global Fund. Through PEPFAR and the Global Fund, we can do our fair share to meet the Millennium Development Goals we affirmed in 2000, which include universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.”
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Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.