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U.S. Senate Nominee Christine O'Donnell on HIV Funding: Less Is More

By Warren Tong

September 23, 2010

Warren Tong is the research editor for and

Whether you're political or not, you can't help but raise your eyebrows at some of the things Republican U.S. Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell has said, whether it's with respect to her campaign against masturbation or dabbling in witchcraft. Last week, a C-SPAN video surfaced of her in 1997, talking about government funding for HIV. She says, "A lot of the money that we're spending goes to things we know will not prevent AIDS, but indeed continue to spread the disease, when a lot of our money goes to distribute condoms in high schools, when a lot of our money goes to distributing material that is literally pornographic." Which sounds like she's saying that using condoms spreads HIV.

But let's go further. In the video above, a caller phones in to equate HIV-positive people with criminals, saying, "It's hard for me to have a whole lot of sympathy for someone that goes out and does something that they know they shouldn't do. It's like a bank robber getting shot in the act of committing the robbery." To which O' Donnell responds, "He makes an excellent point."

Actually, she goes on to say, "There are types of cancer that no behavior will directly make you contract cancer. It's just an act of God. But AIDS, your behavior is directly connected to whether or not you get AIDS. [...] When somebody finds out that they're at high risk for heart disease, they cut out the fatty foods, they start exercising, they quit smoking. However, our approach to AIDS, when you're in a high-risk behavior, is to eliminate the consequences so that you can continue in your lifestyle which brings about this disease."

And which lifestyle is that? The human lifestyle? Whether she likes it or not, people will continue to have sex outside of marriage. Not everybody will (or legally can) get married. Not everybody will be monogamous. There's no way abstinence-only-until-marriage will work. But to be fair, the video is from 1997. Perhaps her viewpoint has changed. Maybe.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Dave (Pa) Fri., Oct. 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm UTC
Judging people for their lifestyle behaviors is nonproductive toward affecting change. Yes, having unprotected sex is dangerous. This woman does unfortunately represent the ideology rampant in the republican party, ala Sarah Palin! Hopefully the electorate will see through this hateful group and for all it stands. Interestingly, the issue of monogamy or lack thereof, is largely a myth. This is evident in climbing rates of STD's yet some bloggers on this site pretend that mongamy does exist in great numbers.
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Comment by: Green Trees (Atlanta) Sun., Sep. 26, 2010 at 6:45 am UTC
You know what amazes me: That there are people actually defending this woman's wild claims. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but she's lumping an entire group of people into this box she's created. It's so sad. She claims to be a Christian (now) but that's not Christian-like to me.
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Comment by: dave (NJ) Sat., Sep. 25, 2010 at 11:09 am UTC
This woman exhibits ill informed and very judgemental views. She is running for a senate seat, and I am frightened that like her "sister" Sarah Palin, she will garner enough recognition that she will be a leading contender in politics!
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Comment by: realismsuks (Augusta, GA) Thu., Sep. 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm UTC
Im aware as your readers are that mongomy is a myth, but you have to admit there is a safe way to cheat. What she's saying is that when people know the consequences of having sex is a baby, who should sympathize with out of wedlock births?
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Comment by: Ryan (Chicag) Thu., Sep. 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm UTC
I had to laugh while listening to Christine O'Donnell's position and comparisons about various diseases. First of all, I have family members and friends who are more than at risk for heart disease and they continue to eat fatty food most of the time and they do not exercise. I understand that her conservative beliefs inhibit her from understanding that people are going to have casual sex prior to marriage, I think she needs to realize condoms are at least a preventative as is asprin for peolpe who experience the very beginnings of heart trouble. I will not be voting for her! Christine is either unwilling or unable to make the connection between societal condemnation of homosexuality the risky sexual behaviors of gays. My personal experiences of family and society scorning me for being gay in the 1980s played a huge role in my behaviors. They told me I was disgusting and I believed them. Sorry to be too emotional. Isn't Christine O'Donnell a christian? How would Jesus Christ have treated the gays.

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Comment by: Mountainman (Denver Co.) Thu., Sep. 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm UTC
Maybe? Well, why not follow this up with a balanced interview? Why not ask her if she would like to clarify this after 12 years. We have ALL seen changes of attitude, congressmen, etc. on this subject. And let's face it, it is a life style (MSM) that is the leading cause of HIV in men.
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Comment by: John (Barnegat, NJ) Thu., Sep. 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm UTC
It is amazing to me that someone could be this ignorant and still capture Republican votes. I wonder if Christine O'Donnell gained this "insight" about HIV/AIDS while she was dabbling in witchcraft? Perhaps educated voters will not vote for her and then we citizenry will not have to worry about her anymore !!!
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Comment by: Solana (Dover Delaware) Thu., Sep. 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm UTC
Has she bumped her head or something appartenly the 1997 is stuck in her mine. Hope she catches up to 2010 real quick or she is lost in the sauce.
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