Presidential AIDS-policy Web site posts candidate responses
The results of a survey polling presidential candidates on their specific plans to combat HIV/AIDS were made public Thursday on the Web site AIDSVote.org, created by a coalition of AIDS advocacy organizations to inform the public about the positions of the candidates and to shape the AIDS policies of the party platforms. Responses to a questionnaire sent by Web site organizations were received by Democratic presidential candidates Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, and retired general Wesley Clark. The Reverend Al Sharpton, a Democrat, and Republican President George W. Bush did not respond to the survey.
"The candidates' responses illustrate their understanding of the critical leadership role the White House must play in the fight against AIDS," said Michael Kink of Housing Works in New York, one of the organizers of the Web site. "We hope this information will help the electorate understand that critical role as well."
The candidates were in agreement on the majority of issues outlined in the survey. All of the Democrats support the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which would expand Medicaid coverage of HIV-positive people, boost spending for the Ryan White Act, back needle-exchange programs, remove barriers preventing HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country, and increase global AIDS spending to $30 billion over the next five years. They also all reject federal funding of abstinence-only education programs, instead supporting comprehensive education and HIV prevention policies. The only area of disagreement centered on the recent congressional investigations of grants issued by the National Institutes of Health for studies in such areas as sexual health, homosexuality, and HIV transmissions. Only Dean and Clark oppose the investigations; the other candidates support them.
The full survey responses can be seen on the organization's Web site at www.aidsvote.org.