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U.S. Senator Jesse Helms Clarifies AIDS Comments

March 7, 2002

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) said his comments regarding being ashamed about his inaction on the AIDS epidemic didn't mean he altered his views on homosexuality or his belief that government spending on AIDS research is excessive compared to spending on other illnesses. "I don't have any idea on changing my views on that kind of activity, which is the primary cause of the doubling and redoubling of AIDS cases in the United States," Helms said. During a Christian conference in Washington last month, Helms said he had been "too lax too long in doing something really significant about AIDS." But on Tuesday, Helms said those comments were focused on the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and didn't apply to domestic AIDS issues involving homosexuals.

"His compassion for the people in Africa is commendable. It's too bad he doesn't have the same compassion for his own people," said Jacquelyn Clymore, director for the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina in Raleigh. Helms pledged Tuesday to work during his remaining months in the Senate to direct more attention and funding to the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 28 million people are infected with HIV.

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