GOP Party Leader Defends AIDS Funding

AIDS research should face the same budget cuts as other health programs in Congress's effort to balance the federal budget.

So says Republican National Committee chair Haley Barbour. ''We shouldn't eliminate AIDS research, but it shouldn't be sacred and not have the same kind of treatment in terms of the budget as other health programs,'' Mr. Barbour told reporters at a Monitor breakfast yesterday.

He was responding to questions about remarks by Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina, who said he wants to reduce funding for an AIDS-treatment program because AIDS is caused by homosexuals' ''deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct.''

Though pressed by reporters, Barbour would neither criticize nor condone Helms's comments. But he did say: ''AIDS research needs to be based on science, on medicine, and on health considerations, not on political considerations, and I think too often it has been.''

''Most AIDS cases in our country are the product of either homosexual acts or drug use with needles,'' Barbour continued. ''Some AIDS cases are not. Some AIDS cases are those who have not engaged in such conduct, who had a blood transfusion or are in some other way infected with the virus. But it is - I don't know exactly how [Helms] said it - it is correct that most AIDS cases, and the genesis of virtually every AIDS case in the United States, is either homosexual conduct or drug use with needles....''

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