Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain's HIV advisor

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 10:31 AM

On Aug. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release data that show higher incidence of new HIV cases in 2006: 55,000 new infections, not 40,000 as previously thought.

While AIDS won’t be a top issue in the campaign, it’s worth considering the presumed presidential candidates’ records on these issues.

Check out this from The New York Times, in which a reporter asks McCain how he feels about government subsidies of condoms:

The upshot was that Mr. McCain said he did not know this subject well, did not know his position on it, and relied on the advice of Senator Tom Coburn, a physician and Republican from Oklahoma.

His press secretary, Brian Jones, later reported that Mr. McCain had a record of voting against using government money to finance the distribution of condoms.

Coburn, you may remember, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions, decries condoms as giving people false confidence about the spread of STDs, and believes homosexuality is inherently sinful.

Here’s more:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

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