Decision '08: McCain or Obama?

BY HIV Plus Editors

October 31 2008 12:00 AM ET

With another presidential election upon us, our nation's most critical policies hang in the balance. And while health care has emerged as a crucial issue in the election, the HIV pandemic has rarely been publicly discussed by either campaign. Here, though, HIV Plus compares the positions of senators John McCain and Barack Obama on several AIDS-related issues and topics.

Much of the information for Democrat Obama was easily found in an issue paper, 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS,' on his website. Since McCain's website offered virtually nothing HIV-related and he has no specific AIDS plan, it took a bit more digging to find out what the Republican would do if elected, particularly since his press office refused to answer any of our questions.

Development of a National AIDS Strategy
Where McCain stands: His press office refused to comment. HIV Plus could find no other published information suggesting a national
strategy is planned.
Where Obama stands: He pledges to develop and begin to implement a national strategy involving all federal agencies within one year of assuming office. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

Early Treatment for HIV Act
Where McCain stands: Press office refused to comment, but online sources indicate he opposes such a law.
Where Obama stands: Supports legislation and is one of the cosponsors of the bill. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

Ryan White Act
Where McCain stands: Was a cosponsor of the original legislation in 1990 and has consistently voted to support it. (Source: Congressional Record.)
Where Obama stands: Supports continued funding for the law. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

Comprehensive Sex Education for Youths
Where McCain stands: Opposes it; supports abstinence-only instruction. When asked by a reporter in March 2007 whether condoms help prevent HIV infection, McCain said, 'You've stumped me.' (Source: The New York Times.)
Where Obama stands: Supports funding age-appropriate programs that include information about abstinence as well as condoms. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

Federal Funding for Needle Exchanges
Where McCain stands: Press office refused to comment. His campaign also did not respond to a February 2008 query on the issue from USA Today.
Where Obama stands: Supports funding needle-exchange programs. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

Prevention Programs in Prisons
Where McCain stands: Press office refused to comment.
Where Obama stands: Supports the Justice Act, which would allow community-based organizations to distribute condoms and engage in STD and HIV educational activities in federal prisons. (Source: Obama's 'Plan to Combat Global HIV/AIDS' issue paper)

President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Where McCain stands: Voted for initial PEPFAR approval in 2003; did not vote on the 2008 reauthorization bill but was a cosponsor. (Source: Congressional Record.)
Where Obama stands: Did not vote on the 2008 reauthorization bill but was a cosponsor. (Source: Congressional Record.)

Ever Been Publicly Tested for HIV?
Where McCain stands: Press office refused to comment.
Where Obama stands: Tested in 2006 during visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

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