Why was the government slow in giving support to addressing and researching the HIV epidemic?

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As Shilts makes clear, the Federal government was slow to acknowledge the spread of the HIV virus because, at that time, it was stigmatized as a "gay" disease, something that only affected gay men, or, in some cases, drug addicts. As society's attitudes towards homosexuality were, on the whole, quite...

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As Shilts makes clear, the Federal government was slow to acknowledge the spread of the HIV virus because, at that time, it was stigmatized as a "gay" disease, something that only affected gay men, or, in some cases, drug addicts. As society's attitudes towards homosexuality were, on the whole, quite regressive, there wasn't much of a political will to tackle this growing disease.

One should also bear in mind that the Reagan Administration of the early 80s had been elected partly on an agenda of social conservatism, and was therefore reluctant to authorize funds to be spent on marginalized groups in society.

As such, the Federal government's response to the AIDS epidemic was initially slow. They were always a day late and a dollar short when it came to proving the necessary funding for research. At the time, spending across all government departments was being cut to the bone, and medical research was no exception.

Given the shortage of available funds it was all the more important for government scientists and researchers to make the case that research into the HIV virus was a top priority. Unfortunately, that tended not to happen due to bureaucratic infighting and internecine squabbles between doctors and researchers, who really ought to have been working together.

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