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New Hampshire AIDS Group Calls on Huckabee to Disavow His 1992 Statement

All Candidates Must Make their Stance on AIDS Clear, Says Group

MANCHESTER, N.H., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today New Hampshire Fights AIDS rejected presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's explanation for a statement he made in 1992, in which he advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public and opposed increased federal funding for AIDS research.

New Hampshire Fights AIDS, a non-partisan group, also criticized all the Republican candidates for issuing vague statements about HIV/AIDS, in contrast to the leading Democratic candidates, who have each published detailed plans on the issue and made clear their position on stigma and discrimination.

"The fact is that in 1992 it had already been known for about ten years that HIV/AIDS could not be transmitted through casual contact," said Christina D'Allesandro, board member of New Hampshire Fights AIDS. "So, Huckabee's excuse that much was still unknown about HIV transmission in 1992 simply does not hold water."

On June 14, 1983 President Reagan's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Margaret Heckler, gave a speech in which she informed the public that HIV/AIDS could not be transmitted via casual contact.

Huckabee has affirmed his support for spending $30 billion to fight HIV/AIDS globally, but this would mean freezing spending at or below the current level. Congress is already on course to provide $6.34 billion for global AIDS programs in 2008, which multiplied over five years would be $31.7 billion.

"We call on all candidates for the Presidency to specify how they will increase funding, base their policies on scientific evidence, and combat the discrimination and stigma that fuels the epidemic globally," said D'Allesandro. "The statements issued by the Republicans, including Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain, are terribly vague and they dodge key concerns related to today's epidemic."

"The issue in 2007 is whether Huckabee and the other Republican candidates are prepared to embrace sound public health approaches when it comes to the needs of groups whose behavior they may find objectionable, such as injecting drug users and men who have sex with men," said D'Allesandro.

"We need a President who can credibly and aggressively combat stigma and discrimination at home and abroad," said D'Allesandro. "HIV is having the biggest impact among those marginalized and discriminated against: women and girls, men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users, immigrants, and prisoners."

"Are these candidates ready to deliver services to all these groups, including providing clean needles to injecting drug users? Would they work to persuade countries who are reluctant to acknowledge some of these groups even exist to respect their human rights and get them the health services they need? Huckabee, Romney, McCain, and Giuliani have all left this very unclear," said D'Allesandro.

New Hampshire Fights AIDS is a grassroots movement of concerned citizens who are devoted towards increasing awareness about the AIDS epidemic and mobilizing a comprehensive and compassionate response to the global AIDS epidemic.

SOURCE New Hampshire Fights AIDS
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