ECLECTIC RANT: George H.W. Bush Dropped The Ball On The AIDS Crisis

Ralph E. Stone
Friday December 07, 2018 - 01:53:00 PM

George H.W. Bush died on the eve of World AIDS Day, established in 1988 to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and mourn those lost to the disease. As a father of 19-year Michael who died of AIDS in 1984, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I am dismayed that the media has focused primarily on Bush’s “kinder and gentler” image, with no mention of his inaction on the AIDS/HIV crisis. This inaction allowed the virus to spread, stigma to grow, and left so many vulnerable people out in the cold.  

True, Bush did sign two pieces of legislation in 1990 to address the crisis: the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protected people living with HIV and AIDS from being discriminated against, and the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which provided federal funding for HIV/AIDS treatment. But he did very little to end the negative attitudes and beliefs about people with AIDS. 

The stigma continues. Today over 1.1 million Americans live with HIV. Roughly 70% of new HIV infections in the U.S. are among gay and bisexual men, and 44% are among African-Americans. We see this government inaction under Trump who fired the entire staff of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, leaving no clear strategy for dealing with the ongoing epidemic. 

Let’s tell the whole story about Bush’s legacy, not just the “nice guy” part.