Limbaugh Rants About AIDS – Again

On Monday's show, the conservative host criticizes activists for spreading lies

“These people blamed AIDS on [former President Ronald] Reagan,” said Rush Limbaugh during a heated monologue Monday on his self-titled radio show. “Sound familiar? They blamed homelessness on Reagan – you know why they blamed AIDS on Reagan? Because he didn’t care. Because he never delivered a speech about it. And because of that, AIDS was spread. They actually wanted us to believe that Reagan had the disease, was sneaking into gay people’s houses at night, and impregnating them with the disease and running out.”

Is Limbaugh popping pain pills again? Probably not since the inflammatory tone of his latest tirade, sadly, is nothing new. It borrows heavily from a fictitious statement he made in 2004 claiming that AIDS hasn’t and will not spread to the heterosexual community – except in Africa, where he blamed the high rates of infection on one thing: promiscuity. Reality is that by 2002 – two years after he claimed straights were safe from “catching AIDS” – 75 percent of women and 15 percent of men who contracted the disease were infected through heterosexual sex.

Another fact Limbaugh forgot to mention this week: It wasn’t just AIDS activists who were angry with Reagan for neglecting the epidemic. Plenty of leaders around the country criticized the former president for his non-existent response to the burgeoning crisis, including Mervyn Silverman, then-director of the Department of Health in San Francisco, Congressman Henry Waxman, then-Senator Lowell Weicker and the National Academy of Sciences. Reagan only ever mentioned the disease by 1987 when he proposed cutting funds to the National Institute of Health’s program on AIDS research. The administration’s own surgeon general was prohibited from discussing AIDS prevention because it was widely believed that administration officials were uncomfortable with gay issues and considered AIDS a punishment for the homosexual lifestyle.

Limbaugh similarly took no pity during the 1980s. Instead, he ran a segment for a month called “AIDS Update,” which was often introduced with Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” And while Limbaugh later apologized for the insensitive ratings ploy, his statements this week fall short of any semblance of intelligent debate about an epidemic that has killed millions of people globally.

If you’re looking for actual facts about AIDS, please consider what the federal government’s website has to say about prevention and regular testing. In Philly, the AIDS FundPhiladelphia FIGHT and the Mazzoni Center all provide information about LGBT health.

And, oh yeah, you can listen to Limbaugh’s latest AIDS rant here: