Sanders Unveils HIV/AIDS Strategy After Clinton's Reagan Remarks

Monday March 14, 2016

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is unveiling a new HIV/AIDS strategy, taking full advantage of rival Hillary Clinton's latest blunder regarding her comments on Nancy Reagan's role in the AIDS crisis.

Clinton was hit with a backlash from LGBT activists and forced to apologize last week after she praised the late first lady and husband Ronald Reagan for starting a "national conversation" on AIDS.

"Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan's funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans' record on HIV and AIDS," the Democratic presidential frontrunner explained on Facebook Friday. "Since then, I've heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple. I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we've come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS."

She posted a longer apology on Medium, which can be read here.

But Sanders isn't letting her gaffe go. The Huffington Post reports Sanders criticized the former secretary of state in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.

"I just don't know what she was talking about," Sanders said. "In fact, that was a very tragic moment in modern American history. There were many, many people dying of AIDS, and in fact, there was demand all over this country for President Reagan to start talking about this terrible tragedy. And yet he refused to talk about it while the AIDS epidemic was sweeping this country. So, I'm not quite sure where Secretary Clinton got her information."

Sanders went on to say he was "glad she apologized." He added: "But the truth is, it was not President Reagan and Nancy Reagan who were leaders in talking about this issue, quite the contrary. They refused to allow that discussion to take place. They didn't get involved in it while so many fellow Americans were getting sick and dying."

Pink News reports the Vermont senator is now rolling out a new HIV/AIDS strategy, which is published on his website. The new campaign includes ditching patents and instead creating a government-funded "prize" fund for HIV research.

As president, Bernie will fight to reform the existing patent laws written by and for the pharmaceutical industry to boost their profits and which make medicine so expensive in the United States.

To lower costs for HIV/AIDS drugs everywhere, Bernie has a plan that would establish a multibillion-dollar prize fund to incentivize drug development. This prize fund would replace our country's broken system that drives drug prices up through government-sanctioned monopolies.

Bernie's plan would provide virtually universal access to lower-cost life-saving medicines for HIV/AIDS as soon as they are approved for sale.

Under Bernie's plan, innovation would be rewarded annually from a Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS therapies. The amount of money in the Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS would be more than $3 billion per year.

The Prize Fund would reward medical researchers and developers of medicines based primarily upon the added therapeutic value a new treatment offers and the number of people it benefits. Instead of a system where the market is manipulated to keep out all competition, companies would be rewarded for their innovation with a cash prize for their medical innovations, rather than through the grant of a monopoly. Under Bernie's plan, drugs would have generic competition immediately after FDA approval.

In other words, this plan would break the link between drug development and the rewards for medical research and development. In doing so, we will reward true innovation, eliminate the market incentive for copycat drugs and get all HIV/AIDS treatments to the people who need them at generic prices.

The Prize Fund proposal would also be much cheaper than the current system, reducing the costs of the drugs to employers, taxpayers and patients by billions of dollars per year.

Click here to read Sanders' full plan.

Clinton also has a plan for people with HIV/AIDS. If elected president she pledges to "secure affordable treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS," her website reads

While the United States has made great progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS, our job is not done. As secretary of state, Hillary began an ambitious campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation. As president, she will continue to drive towards that goal by calling on all Republican governors to extend Medicaid coverage to provide life-saving health care to people living with HIV, capping out-of pocket expenses for people with HIV/AIDS, and expanding the utilization of HIV prevention medications, including preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Click here to read more from Clinton's site about LGBT issues.