Focus: Washington

Senator's bellicosity kindles bigotry

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 22 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:216
  1. JOHN ROBERTS, North American editor,BMJ

    Since the first cases were reported in gay men in 1981 AIDS has been labelled by many Americans as a gay disease. The religious right has called it God's punishment for unnatural acts. During his eight year term President Reagan avoided using the word AIDS, and he failed to reach out to patients with AIDS, even when his Hollywood friend Rock Hudson contracted it. But at the end of the 1980s an Indiana teenager, Ryan White, touched America's heart.

    The boy had contracted HIV through a blood transfusion, and during his final illness he preached tolerance and compassion for all those with the disease. In fact, his attitude translated into law. The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act of 1990 has provided pounds sterling1.2 …

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