McCain Flip-Flops on HIV Prevention

Todd Heywood

John McCain changed his stance on several key issues of concern to HIV prevention and sexual health advocates in a recent interview with the Washington Blade.

John McCain
changed his stance on several key issues of concern to HIV prevention and sexual health advocates, according to an interview published this past Wednesday in
the District of Columbia’s gay newspaper, The Washington Blade.

McCain called for a national strategy to deal with HIV/AIDS:

I am committed to supporting the development of a
National AIDS Strategy. Countries receiving PEPFAR aid are required to
develop a national plan; but we don’t have one in our country. It’s
important to settle on a national strategy – with input from state,
local and federal government officials; along with the private sector,
doctors, drug companies and AIDS advocates. Let’s roll up our sleeves
and put together a National AIDS Strategy for more effectively
addressing the domestic challenges. Recent CDC statistics show that gay
men continue to be strongly impacted by the disease, and the disease is
disproportionately affecting people of color. Our prevention and
treatment efforts must be improved to address these challenges.

Barack Obama has championed as part of his platform a national
strategy to address HIV/AIDS. In contrast, McCain has never voiced
support for a national strategy until this interview, let alone
advocated for prevention measures that address the needs of gay youth.
You can read Rewire’s comparison of both candidate’s views
on this issue of HIV/AIDS here.

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In fact, McCain has supported abstinence-only education mandates as
part of sex education – a strategy that many experts have faulted as
aiding in the increased rates of infections among gay youth. Those
programs, which focus on abstinence until marriage, ignore a
significant issue: Gay youth are well aware that they can’t get married
in most states. Government evaluations of the abstinence-only education
programs have all determined the programs are failures. Yet McCain and
Palin continue to support the programs.

In the Blade interview, McCain had the following exchange with the interviewer:

Blade: How would a McCain administration approach
abstinence-until-marriage sex education initiatives? What is your view
regarding programs that provide safe-sex messages specific to gay youth?

McCain: I have supported including abstinence as a component of
sex-education programs. Decisions regarding programs targeted
specifically at gay youth should be made based on a review of the
scientific data to determine what works and what doesn’t, but they must
encourage responsible individual behavior.

Given an opportunity to support the claim that programs addressing
the issue of prevention be scientifically sound, McCain voted against
the measure, according to Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

McCain opposed legislation requiring that
abstinence-only programs be medically accurate and scientifically
based. McCain voted NO on legislation that would help reduce the number
of teen pregnancies by providing funding for programs to teach
comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education and other
programs to prevent unintended teen pregnancies.

So the question is, what does John McCain actually believe when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention?

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