Originally published on Advocate.com May 05 2004 12:00 AM ET
Tom Coburn, cochair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, has written to the publishers of Poz magazine to cancel his subscription because he was offended by a photograph of nude HIV-positive men and women on the magazine's cover, the New York Post reports. Poz focuses on the AIDS epidemic and people infected with HIV, and its editors ran a photo by photographer Spencer Tunick of more than 80 nude HIV-positive adults on its 10th anniversary issue cover. Coburn was so offended by the nude photo that he faxed a handwritten letter to the magazine's New York City office last week with instructions to "please remove from mailing list immediately."
Poz founder Sean Strub, who appeared in the cover photo, says Coburn's complaint is the only one the magazine has received. "He's a doctor--why is he so disgusted by naked bodies? You'd think that even if he disagreed with us, he'd still get the magazine for the information," Strub told the Post. "It's indicative of the hostility that those of us living with AIDS face from this administration. We disgust them." A spokesman for Coburn, a Republican and former U.S. representative from Oklahoma who is currently running for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in that state, says he may have been upset over receiving the magazine with the nude cover photo in his Muskogee, Okla., doctor's office where patients in the waiting room could see it.
Coburn, whose appointment to PACHA in early 2002 was opposed by many AIDS and gay groups, does not advocate the use of condoms, stresses an abstinence-only approach to HIV and other sexually transmitted disease protection, and believes homosexuality is morally wrong.