After an alarming mis-step in which she praised the Reagans for helping people with AIDS, Hillary Clinton is bouncing back with bold plans to fight stigma and criminalization of HIV.
Ronald Reagan, of course, was in large part responsible for the worst of the epidemic. He refused to acknowledge the disease, or to take action to stop its spread. For her part, Nancy Reagan refused to aid family friend Rock Hudson as HIV-related illness took its toll on his body.
Clinton’s approach stands in sharp contrast to the worst monsters of the AIDS crisis. Clinton recently delivered a message to attendees of the “HIV is Not a Crime Training Academy,” a group that works to fight HIV stigma and criminalization. She thanked them for their work, saying that they “lift us all up,” and added that “we still have a long way to go.”
Crucially, Clinton drew attention to the ways in which HIV disproportionately affects “communities of color, transgender people, gay and bisexual men and young people, around the world.”
Also speaking to the conference was Kerry Thomas, currently serving a 30-year sentence for having sex while HIV-positive. Thomas used condoms, had an undetectable viral load, and did not transmit the disease — but he was convicted nevertheless.
Hillary has a detailed plan for fighting HIV and AIDS, not just domestically but around the world. Her goals as president include increasing funding for research; securing affordable treatment for people with HIV and AIDS, and reforming laws. She’s committed to continuing the work of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy developed under the Obama administration — incredibly, the first time the country has had such a plan.
She’s also committed to capping out-of-pocket expenses for patients. She would limit monthly and annual costs to $250, and also work to give Medicare better leverage for negotiating lower prices. Clinton would also limit subsidies that drug companies get for advertising — amazingly, the government helps fund drug ads, rather than requiring that companies re-invest those taxpayer dollars in research.
And she’s committed to a crucial measure: reforming outdated laws that criminalize HIV. Currently, some states make it a crime for people to have sex while HIV-positive, even though criminalization has been shown to be an ineffective and counterproductive means of stopping the spread of the virus.
Also on Clinton’s plan: expanding PrEP, a treatment that shows great promise for protecting against new transmissions. Although the science behind PrEP is still quite young, data show that when taken properly it almost completely eliminates the risk of transmission. Clinton would increase CDC research into the therapy and also bring it to more populations in need.
Beyond American borders, Hillary Clinton would also expand HIV treatment worldwide, working with PEPFAR to strengthen programs that fight the disease globally. Such programs already have bipartisan support here in the U.S..
You might be wondering how this compares with Donald Trump’s AIDS strategy. Well, you don’t have to wonder: he doesn’t have one.