We already know that U.S. President Donald Trump is racist: He was a so-called “birther” conspiracy theorist who doubted President Barack Obama’s American citizenship, he considers KKK members “some very fine people” and regularly bullies black athletes. But a recent New York Times report claims Trump said that 15,000 Haitians with American visas “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerian visa holders would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, according to two anonymous Oval Office officials. The Trump Haiti AIDS comments are just further proof of his ignorant thinking on race and HIV.
The background of the Trump Haiti AIDS comment
The scandalous section of the New York Times report says that in June 2017, Trump received a report on how many foreigners had obtained visas to enter the U.S. during 2017. The visas allegedly made him angry because he thought its numbers flew in the face of his campaign promise to reduce immigration over U.S. borders. The New York Times reports:
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document …
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
For the record, although Haiti reportedly has the highest prevalence of HIV infections in Latin America and the Caribbean, it still only has a 2.1% rate of HIV among adults aged 15 to 49. So statistically it’s more likely that only 315 of the 15,000 Haitian visa recipients might have HIV, if even that many.
The Trump Haiti AIDS comment is also further proof of his neglect on HIV issues
Granted, Trump doesn’t really care about HIV facts or people of color. His 2017 World HIV Day proclamation didn’t even mention LGBTQ people or people of color (though nor did the proclamations of some previous presidents).
Trump has yet to appoint a leader to the Office of National AIDS Policy or put up a new government website for the office. If you go to that page at whitehouse.gov, it’s blank.
On the upside, it’s probably worth mentioning that a U.S. Appeals court just partially blocked parts of Trump’s third travel ban against immigrants, meaning that “foreigners who have a bona fide tie to the U.S., such as an American relative or a concrete connection to an employer or university in the U.S.,” should still be allowed into the country, no matter how Trump feels.