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Ronald Reagan & AIDS Remembered
 
 
  AIDS TREATMENT NEWS - June 12, 2004
John S. James
www.aegis.org
 
The following press conference is the first public mention of AIDS in the Reagan White House. At that time 200 Americans had died of a new infectious disease. Reagan himself did not mention AIDS for three more years.
 
THE WHITE HOUSE
 
Office of the Press Secretary
 
PRESS BRIEFING BY LARRY SPEAKES
 
October 15, 1982
 
The Briefing Room
 
12:45pm EDT
 
Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement - the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
 
MR. SPEAKES: What's AIDS?
 
Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
 
MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
 
Q: No, I don't.
 
MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.
 
Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President -
 
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
 
Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
 
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
 
Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
 
MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any -
 
Q: Nobody knows?
 
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
 
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping -
 
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he's had no - (laughter) - no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
 
Q: The President doesn't have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
 
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn't say that.
 
Q: Didn't say that?
 
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn't you stay there? (Laughter.)
 
Q: Because I love you Larry, that's why (Laughter.)
 
MR. SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don't put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
 
Q: Oh, I retract that.
 
MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
 
Q: It's too late.
 
This transcript was quoted at the beginning of Jon Cohen's book, Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine, 2001.
 
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Copyright 2004 - by John S. James. See "Permission to Copy" at:
http://www.aidsnews.org/canhelp. How to help AIDS Treatment News:
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