by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The safety and effectiveness of common medical vaccines is not the only area where Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul disagrees with modern medicine.
In the course of discussing his eccentric views on vaccinations, Paul referred to an organization called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Paul and his father, former Congressman Ron Paul, have been members of the group for many years, and frequently cite its opinions.
Among other things, AAPS claims that HIV does not cause AIDS. Instead, AAPS members have written in its Journal, AIDS is caused by unsanitary living conditions, recreational drug use, or even by antiretroviral medications themselves.
The Journal has also claimed that the 'Gay male lifestyle' shortens life expectancy by as much as 20 years, and that abortions cause breast cancer.
Other potential Republican presidential candidates have equally bizarre ideas about HIV/AIDS and public health.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee - who recently claimed he has Gay friends - once advocated compulsory quarantine of HIV/AIDS patients.
In an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in 1992, Huckabee said in an Associated Press questionnaire that steps should be taken to 'isolate the carriers of this plague.'
He also suggested that instead of being funded by the federal government, AIDS research should be paid for by the Hollywood celebrities who were making such a fuss about it.
In 2008 when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, Huckabee stood by his prior remarks.
'I had simply made the point - and I still believe this today - that in the late '80s and early '90s, when we didn't know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted,' he told Fox News.
Dr. Ben Carson, although he is a noted neurosurgeon, has built a side-career promoting Mannatech dietary supplements.
In 2007, three years after Carson's first dealings with Mannatech, then-Texas Attorney General, now Governor, Greg Abbott sued the company and Carson, charging them with orchestrating an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated their products' health benefits.
Carson helped the company portray its products as cures for AIDS, cancer, autism, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and life-threatening heart conditions. His association with Mannatech lasted until last year.
'The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel,' Carson explains in a video pitching the company's supplements.
'And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food... Many of the natural things are not included in our diet. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.'
When Ted Cruz was running for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he was introduced at the Values Voters Summit by Rick Scarborough, leader of the anti-Gay Vision for America.
Cruz is 'a man grounded by faith and principle' and 'a true champion of freedom,' Scarborough said. Scarborough is a 'tremendous patriot and voice for Christian values,' Cruz replied.
In fact, Scarborough is an anti-Gay crusader who claims that America is facing 'sexual anarchy led by sodomites' and that AIDS is God's 'judgment for an immoral act.'
After winning election, Cruz told the Heritage Foundation 'We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.'
Now dead, Helms opposed while alive any 'federal financing of AIDS research and treatment,' arguing that 'There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.'
While Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has not taken the same extremist positions as some of his competitors, he is no friend of people living with HIV.
After being sworn into office in 2011, Walker introduced a controversial budget that slashed $500 million from the state's Medicaid funds, some of which go to treating low-income HIV/AIDS patients.
The next year he also rejected a $37.6 million federal grant to set up a health exchange in Wisconsin under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). He also turned down an $11 million grant to improve Medicaid enrollment.
'Stopping the encroachment of Obamacare in our state, which has the potential to have a devastating impact on Wisconsin's economy, is a top priority,' he explained.
While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also voiced doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, he is still the most rational of the Republican hopefuls when it comes to HIV/AIDS issues.
In 2012, Christie announced more than $19.5 million in state funding for 54 community organizations, hospitals and health agencies for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
'This funding announcement is a significant investment in our community organizations that are on the frontlines in the battle against HIV,' Christie said at the time.
'These grants will provide $11.2 million for HIV counseling, testing and education and $8.3 million for medical care and social services including housing aid and legal services. It's community organizations... that are providing a vital safety net and vision that is worthy of our continued support. We are joined by a common vision and belief that we have a moral imperative to help people in need of treatment.'
Nevertheless, Christie was picketed by HIV/AIDS activists last October because of his insistence on quarantining an Ebola nurse even though she had no signs of the disease. It harked back to the push to quarantine AIDS patients in the early stages of the epidemic, many said.
Nurse Kaci Hickox returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa and never contracted the disease.
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