AIDS Treatment NewsImportant note: Information in this article was accurate in 2004. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date.
Click here to return to AIDS Treatment News main menu
Print this Article

DonateNow



Ronald Reagan Remembered

AIDS TREATMENT NEWS - June 12, 2004
John S. James


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.

040612
ATN040601


Copyright © 2004 - by John S. James. See "Permission to Copy" at: http://www.aidsnews.org/canhelp. How to help AIDS Treatment News: http://www.aidsnews.org/canhelp.

AEGiS is made possible through unrestricted grants from Boehringer Ingelheim, the National Library of Medicine, and donations from users like you. Always watch for outdated information. This article first appeared in 2004. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor.

AEGiS presents published material, reprinted with permission and neither endorses nor opposes any material. All information contained on this website, including information relating to health conditions, products, and treatments, is for informational purposes only. It is often presented in summary or aggregate form. It is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.

Copyright ©1980, 2004. AEGiS. All materials appearing on AEGiS are protected by copyright as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and are the property of AEGiS, or the party credited as the provider of the content. .