The Digital Truth on AIDS

As November election nears horizon, website aspires to be a political force

Wondering if former Vermont Governor Howard Dean supports federal funding of needle exchange programs? Will President George W. Bush lift the ban on travel to the U.S. by HIV-positive immigrants? Would U.S. Senator John Kerry increase federal spending in the global fight against AIDS if he were president?

Point your browser to aidsvote.org to answer these questions and learn a whole lot more about what Bush and the seven Democrats who would like to replace him think about AIDS and healthcare issues.

“Polls have shown that there are a relatively large number of voters for whom AIDS is an important issue,” said Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, an AIDS service organization and one of the groups that launched the site. “We want to get the basic facts into people’s hands. We want to get them registered and voting.”

Six of the now seven contenders for the Democratic nomination have responded to questionnaires that were sent out on December 1. Voters can view their responses to a series of policy questions and read additional statements that their campaigns submitted at the site. Al Sharpton, the one Democratic holdout, and the Bush campaign have promised to respond in the near future.

The site also has a policy statement dealing with AIDS issues that was developed by leading AIDS and health groups. Organizations and individuals that want to endorse the platform can sign on.

“It’s important to bring together the energy of the domestic and global advocates,” Kink said. “We have a comprehensive set of both domestic and global recommendations.”

To date, over 1,400 individuals and 160 groups have backed the aidsvote.org platform.

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