One additional concern that may have influenced FDA’s decision not to recommend aggressive donor screening may have been the fear that they might be sued by gay or civil rights activists. The FDA and members of its Advisory Committee may have been worried that if they were to recommend or require donor screening that would eliminate gay donors they would be faced with a claim alleging discrimination against gays. Thus, they may have felt that it was inadvisable to risk a lawsuit when there was really no risk of the FDA being sued if they did NOT require donor screening.
Indeed, in 1985 the National Gay Task Force and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a petition in federal court to delay the licensing of the first federally approved test for detecting HIV, claiming it might be used to discriminate against gays. The organizations only “allowed” the government to release the test once the feds agreed that it would never be used to test actual human beings; only blood already in blood banks could be tested.
The paranoia and conspiracy-mongering among gay advocates culminated in what Chandler Burr in The Atlantic called “AIDS exceptionalism””the medical community’s retreat from commonsense, tried-and-true practices of treatment and prevention of communicable diseases in order to appease the gay community. Burr’s 1997 piece is one of the best things ever written about how gay politics slowed (and in some cases sabotaged) the fight against AIDS, and it deserves to be read in its entirety. I”ll merely excerpt the main thesis:
Since the turn of the century, with the introduction in this country of bacteriological testing and the establishment of boards of health, standard public-health measures have been deployed against infectious diseases…. It would be surprising if, out of all the viruses and bacteria that can do us significant harm, one was exempted from the scope of these measures. It would be even more surprising if the one chosen pathogen was responsible for an epidemic that today constitutes the leading cause of death among all Americans aged twenty-five to forty-four. This very thing has, of course, happened, largely in order to accommodate civil-rights concerns. The practice of traditional public health has been to a great degree suspended for acquired immune deficiency syndrome and for human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes it. “We have convinced ourselves,” Ralph Frerichs, a prominent epidemiologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Epidemiology, “that the fight for survival can be waged in a way that is socially acceptable but not always biologically credible.”
The gay community, having initially spread conspiracy nonsense that AIDS was a fiction invented to put the kibosh on the nonstop partying of the 1970s, ended up channeling its paranoia into a series of successful demands that resulted in everybody”not just gay people”being put at risk from the disease. Delays in blood-supply testing, delays in the licensing of the first known effective test, and, finally, the suspension of standard public health measures, because, to again quote the Times, “a segment of the gay community was more concerned with civil rights than staying alive.”
But Nancy Reagan is the villain.
In June 1983, The New York Times, no friend to the Reagan administration, declared, “In Washington, as the number of cases nationwide mounts beyond 1,500 and the number of deaths nears 600, Government officials are proclaiming AIDS the nation’s No. 1 health priority.” In fact, the administration was taking AIDS seriously at a time when some gay activists were still denying its existence. Which is not to say that the administration couldn”t have done better; it certainly could have. But Nancy Reagan was not a doctor, a scientist, or even an elected official. To heap blame and hatred on a first lady for not “doing more” while excusing (or whitewashing) the long-term effects of the gay community’s response to the epidemic is lunatic. Well, more than that…it’s leftist (arguably a synonym for “lunatic”).
And we see the standard, familiar flourishes of leftism all over the AIDS crisis. At first, it was all about “don”t trouble me with reality and science and common sense”I just want to indulge in my every pleasure and desire!” Then it became “I don”t care how many people die as a result”I”m in a protected victim group, and my special rights are more important than your life.” And finally, after the mess had been made, it was “I”ll blame everyone else for the catastrophic results of my choices and actions.”
Claim special victim status in order to create havoc, and then hide behind that status to avoid responsibility when things go south”those are the main symptoms of the disease known as leftism. And sadly, that’s one affliction for which no cure has ever been found.
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