AIDS And The Reagan Administration
AIDS, Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome, became a chilling political and social issue throughout the nineteen eighties. President Reagan’s reaction, or lack thereof, to this growing crisis greatly impacted the lives of thousands. The Reagan Administration turned a blind eye to AIDS, “the gay disease”, focusing on much more “important” political issues at hand. The administration, disregarding the epidemic, funded organizations for their political agenda instead of using their assets for AIDS relief. The lack and focus by our country’s leaders led to the government’s ineffective use of resources for AIDS. This response contributed to the death of thousands, with a majority of the gay population suffering in the hands of negligence.
The Reagan Administration’s silence to the AIDS epidemic crippled the gay community and a great quantity of Americans’ lives. This crisis was demonized and looked at as the “gay plague. ” The American government did not push for the necessary treatment of the controversial issue, but push the epidemic under the rug. The lack of responsibility and assistance from the White House led to the lack of treatment from other federal and privately owned institutions. AIDS treatment was seen as an expensive, invaluable waste of time and energy. Throughout the majority of the eighties, nothing significant had been done by the government about the growing number of deaths, particularly those of the homosexual community.
As the political climate escalated throughout the Reagan Era, President Reagan focused on more “valuable” issues. On September 17, 1985, Reagan defended his lack of funding for the epidemic by stating that he was making a “vital contribution” to AIDS relief, but research was limited by “strict budgetary restraints imposed by other complex issues. ” Reagan reduced funding by eleven percent for AIDS research the following year. As a result, government institutions, such as the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, did not have the resources to treat the crisis. The White House’s prioritization of other political issues over AIDS delayed possible research and treatment for thousands. President Reagan’s negligence, in both funding and acknowledgment of AIDS, led to the underestimation of the crisis.
The media, scientific and medical community, and government did not take necessary action to prevent AIDS from escalating. “And the Band Played On”, by Randy Shilts, highlights how inaction gave AIDS freedom to become an epidemic, stating: 'In those early days the government viewed AIDS as a budget problem, local public health officials saw it as a political problem, gay leaders considered AIDs a public relations problem, and the news media regarded it as a homosexual problem that wouldn’t interest anyone else. Consequently, few confronted AIDS for what it was a profoundly threatening medical crisis. ” The lack of available resources only made the epidemic’s death count continue at a faster pace. President Reagan’s reaction, or lack thereof, to the growing crisis of AIDS greatly impacted the lives of thousands, throughout the nineteen eighties to today. The epidemic, often described as a chilling political/social issue, was often ignored by the White House.
The Reagan Administration failed to take necessary action, and instead focused on other issues at hand. The neglect of the government led to the escalation of the epidemic, and a long silence to the “gay disease. ” The treatment of AIDS by the federal government is a mistake that will forever resonate, ignorance does not make a matter insignificant.