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Stark Differences Between Candidates On HIV/AIDS Issues

Posted by pozlife on November 28, 2007

112807pby 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: November 28, 2007 – 3:00 pm ET

(New York City) Three of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS care groups have polled the 16 presidential hopefuls and found marked differences between Democrats and Republicans.

Housing Works, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago questioned the candidates on a range of AIDS-related issues from funding to education in advance of World AIDS Day.

"World AIDS Day is this Saturday, but you could also say that World AIDS Day is Election Day 2008. That’s because our next President will have the opportunity and the responsibility to end AIDS," said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works.

"She or he will have the tools to treat 33 million people living with HIV-including over a million Americans-around the planet, as well as the tools to stop the spread of the virus. We’re here to build the political will to make that happen."

Seven of the Democratic candidates have committed to investing $50 billion to fight HIV/AIDS globally over the next five years the survey found. No Republican candidate has made a similar commitment.

All eight Democratic candidates support comprehensive sex education, whereas seven of eight Republicans have opposed it.

Most of the Democrats support lifting the ban against HIV-positive foreign nationals visiting and/or immigrating to the U.S.; most Republican candidates either support the existing ban or have not come out against it.

The three leading Democratic candidates – Sen. Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. Hillary Clinton – have all publicly supported ending the ban on federal funding for needle exchange, a scientifically proven intervention to reduce the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton faced stiff criticism by public health experts for failing to lift the ban during their terms in office.

The survey also found that for the first time, five presidential candidates – Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Gov. Bill Richardson – have committed to crafting a national AIDS strategy early in their first term if elected.

"More than ever, the American public is calling for meaningful health care reform which includes bold leadership in the area of AIDS," said GMHC Chief Operating Officer Robert Bank.

The three advocacy groups have created a web site, AIDSVote.org, to show where each of the candidates stands.

"Voters need to know what the candidates will do to fight AIDS when determining their readiness to be President," said Bank.

The website includes domestic and global AIDS platforms, which detail how the next president of the U.S. can end AIDS in places as far away as South Africa and as close as South Carolina.

"We not only hope to better inform voters about how important HIV/AIDS policy issues and the need for a national AIDS strategy are in the election but also hope to better inform the candidates themselves," said Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action Council executive director.

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