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AIDS Agencies Laud Report, Challenge Administration Follow-through

June 3, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Agencies coping with the AIDS epidemic in America praised a White House AIDS commission’s call Thursday for legislation protecting the infected, and urged Congress and the Reagan administration to follow its recommendations.

A spokesman for one agency, however, challenged the report as a ″Band-Aid approach,″ saying the proposed $3 billion increase in AIDS spending is too little, too late.

″The commission’s report is courageous, aggressive and compassionate,″ said Tim Sweeney, deputy executive director for policy of the New York City- based Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a clearinghouse on AIDS.

″We applaude their honesty and directness in addressing anti- discrimination, explicit education, addiction treatment, violence against people with AIDS, expansion of voluntary testing and the federal government’s lethargic approach to drug testing,″ he said.

″We challenge the president, Congress and presidential candidates to respond to this report by implementing its recommendations,″ Sweeney said.

The American Public Health Association, a private organization of health professionals, lauded the report ″as an aggressive first step towards developing an integrated national strategy to deal with the AIDS epidemic.″

The recommendations ″are a rational, intelligent and compassionate response to the epidemic,″ the association said.

″It goes a long way in calling for a rational, compassionate, practical response to the AIDS epidemic, which we are yet to have in this country,″ said Rene Durazzo of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

He said the commission’s report should have specifically called for the use of condoms, and should have been strong in preventing AIDS transmission among intravenous drug users.

The recommendations cannot be ignored by the White House in light of similar recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences, he said.

″We’re having a very strong consensus coming together to form a good, national, practical response.

″At the White House, they have no reason to hedge the issues any more,″ he said. ″If they do, they’re laying down and letting peope die.″

Bob Kunst, director of Cure Aids Now, a clearinghouse on AIDS and a service agency in Miami feeding 120 AIDS patients, condemned the report as ″a Band- Aid approach to this global menace and emergency.″

Kunst said the $3 billion spending hike proposed ″is again woefully deficient. As a direct service agency in Miami, there is no money for food, for housing, for legitimate issues to keep people who are already infected alive.

″The emphasis in this report is on anti-discrimination laws for people with AIDS,″ he said. ″Florida was the first state to treat AIDS as a handicap. ... None of that is saving anybody’s life.

″The last thing we need is the killing us with kindness attitude. What we want is the money, the accountability and we want legitimate people involved.″

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