Connecticut: AIDS Comments Prompt Resignation of Governor's Aide
June 11, 2002
New Haven Alderwoman Nancy Ahern has quit her job as an aide to Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland in a flap over comments about AIDS. Ahern resigned Thursday from her job as a constituent service aide after allegedly making what AIDS activists characterized as insensitive comments about the spread of the disease.
Several New Haven residents demonstrated outside Ahern's home Friday, demanding that she resign from the Board of Aldermen. Ahern said she does not intend to resign from the board. Rowland's chief of staff, Dean Pagani, called Fred Hammond, executive director of the Interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury, to apologize for the comments Ahern apparently made to Hammond during a phone conversation a day earlier. "The governor does not condone or tolerate any kind of insensitivity," Rowland spokesperson Chris Cooper said. "He apologizes on behalf of his office that those comments were made by a former member of the staff." Hammond said he was pleased with the response from the governor's office.
A Life Campaign, an advocacy group for people with HIV/AIDS, said Ahern made this statement to the Danbury group, "AIDS prevention programs are not effective in the state of Connecticut. We have known for 20 years how this disease is spread and it is being spread in Connecticut by predatory males in the minority communities and by those gays deliberately infecting others." A Life also said Ahern said that programs will be eliminated. An official from the Danbury group, who contacted Ahern about the governor's budget plans, typed the comments as Ahern spoke.
"Of course I feel sorry for people who are struggling with HIV and AIDS. It's a horrible illness," Ahern said. But "some people are knowingly infecting other people and I don't have sympathy for people who are doing that. How can you?"
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.