Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I thought we grew past this kind of crap (Updated)

Seriously. I thought America, as flawed as it is and has been in relation to HIV had outgrown the blame the person with HIV and punish them for it mentality.

Apparently not in North Carolina, however. State Rep. Larry Brown, a pasty overweight balding white man -- a traditional southern Republican, told the Winston Salem Journal that people with HIV ought not get government assistance to access medications or doctors.

From the Journal:

State Rep. Larry Brown said during a discussion of his legislative goals for the year that the government should not spend money to treat adults with HIV or AIDS who "caused it by the way they live."

He went on to say he thinks the government shouldn't spend money to treat HIV among people "living in perverted lifestyles."

"I'm not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don't condone spending taxpayers' money to help people living in perverted lifestyles," said Brown, who ran unopposed in the November election to win a fourth term.

Such a charming man, this Rep. Brown. He says those who get HIV via sex or drugs are among those he considers perverted and thus not eligible for government assistance.

It seems that North Carolina is already doing some cost containment. The state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) has 87 people waiting for access to the life saving medications which costs thousands of dollars a year. The program has also implemented other cost containment measures by limiting what medications are even covered by the program.


The folks at Human Rights Campaign have weighed in on Rep. Brown's statements. In a release sent out just now (3:10 p.m. EST), here's what HRC had to say:

“Rep. Brown’s ill-informed comments are not only hateful rhetoric, but they are also extremely dangerous,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Hysterical, judgmental and inaccurate statements like Brown’s create an environment that prevents many from getting tested and seeking treatment, thereby furthering the spread of HIV and AIDS. Larry Brown’s conduct reflects poorly on his constituents and other elected officials. The people of North Carolina deserve better.”

“Larry Brown’s views are out of line with the fair-minded people of North Carolina,” Solmonese added. “Sadly, he won a fourth term in November unopposed. Expressions of such bigotry and ignorance have no place in the North Carolina Legislature.”

Now don't get me wrong, I am glad HRC weighed in. But I am troubled that everytime I have reached out to Human Rights Campaign about HIV issues in Michigan, I am met with silence. In fact, HRC recently released a tour schedule for their political agenda, and once again Michigan was missed. I am beginning to wonder if HRC even knows that Michigan exists.


  1. Who's fault is it then? The "victim" is the one who chose to shoot up and/or have promiscuous/unprotected sex, thus they need to take responsibility for their actions and not dump part of the fallout on everyone else.

    Actions have consequences. Act accordingly.

  2. Thanks for your comment, but I think you miss the larger public health issues involved. (1) The fastest growing population contracting HIV are those who are 13-24 (in Michigan that actually goes to 29). That is the prime working and educational period for people in this country. So by denying access to vital medications, we are saying we are willing to pay for them on welfare because without medication they are unable to contribute to the economy because they are too ill from the disease. Additionally, why is it this concept of blaming people who get sick from HIV for their behavior, but not addressing diseases caused by other behavioral choices? How is sex or intravenous drug use any different than some one who suffers diabetes because of obesity? Or the drinker with hepatic failure from the destruction of their liver? Of the smoker who gets lung cancer? Those are socially nice and acceptable diseases because they have nothing to do with things we as a culture like to suppress and ignore. So where do we draw a line? Do we help those who maintain a healthy body mass, but not those who are obese? Do we refuse care to people with drinking problems, but not to teetotallers? Do we offer care and support for those with lung cancer from pollution and not those with lung cancer from smoking? And how do we enforce that ban when hospitals are legally obligated to treat anyone with a life threatening condition? Without medications, we as a society will pay the cost on the back end with hospitalizations and end of life care. So how about we hang up the moralizing and start talking about some real solutions?


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