Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thirty years ago: John Roberts authored memo advising Reagan not to say AIDS couldn't be transmitted through casual contact

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of a memorandum by White House attorney John Roberts advising that President Ronald Reagan not publicly state that HIV could not be transmitted through casual contact.  Roberts would eventually become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

In the memo addressed to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts stated that the matter was a "disputed scientific issue", and he advised that Reagan avoid repeating an earlier briefing memo's talking point that "as far as our best scientists have been able to determine, AIDS virus is not transmitted through casual or routine contact."

On the contrary, Roberts advised that "There is much to commend the view that we should assume AIDS can be transmitted through casual or routine contact, as is true with many viruses, until it is demonstrated that it cannot be, and no scientist has said AIDS definitely cannot be so transmitted."

See here and here.

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