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Virginia Lt. Gov. Candidate Opposes HIV Prevention Measures

Virginia Lt. Gov. Candidate Opposes HIV Prevention Measures


The extremely conservative Jackson has a long history of opposing measures aimed at stopping the spread of the disease — even those supported by his own party.

E.W. Jackson, the recently announced Republican candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, has a disturbing history of opposing HIV and AIDS prevention efforts going back to 1980s.

An article in Mother Jones details Jackson's activism in Boston in the '80s and '90s. He was a minister and political force there before he moving to Virginia in 1998.

In 1987, Jackson put together a group of 30 clergymen to oppose the opening of four public health clinics in Boston city schools to help prevent the spread of HIV. An advocate of abstinence as the only acceptable means of prevention, "he claimed any program that even mentioned condoms was promoting promiscuity," Mother Jones notes. That year he also held a candlelight vigil in front of a local ABC affiliate, WCVB, to demand that the station not air any public service announcements that endorsed condom use.

As part of his larger campaign against supposed immorality, he opposed a Boston needle-exchange program to fight the spread of HIV among injection-drug users, called on state legislators to keep same-sex couples from becoming foster parents, and vowed to blast "to smithereens" an LGBT rights bill.

Abstinence-only sex education, such as Jackson has endorsed, has proved ineffective in curving HIV transmissions and often does more harm than good, as a lack of appropriate sex education leads to a lack of knowledge at how to prevent HIV. And "morality" campaigns like his serve to stigmatize people who have or are at risk for HIV, causing them to defer testing and treatment.

Jackson is out of line not only with science but with stances taken by some members of his party. For instance, the late C. Everett Koop, surgeon general under President Reagan, supported comprehensive sex education to prevent the spread of HIV.

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Katie Wurtzel