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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Head of AIDS Advisory Panel Ousted
Friday, 7 February 2003

WASHINGTON -- Patricia Ware, the executive director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, has resigned her post following the controversy that greeted her recommendation of Jerry Thacker, an anti-gay activist, to the panel. In an effort to lessen the political impact of her departure, officials from the Bush administration told the Washington Post Ware was being promoted to a more senior role within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sources close to the deliberations, however, insisted Ware was moved to avoid further embarrassment over the selection of Thacker, who has described AIDS as the "gay plague" and homosexuality as a "death style." Thacker withdrew his nomination on Jan. 23.

Ware has ties to the previous Bush administration where she served as a conservative advisor on social policy. A long-time darling of the far right, Ware has been a leading proponent of abstinence-only sex education.


The Post quotes several sources who said Ware's support of Thacker was the last straw. Her tenure as the top staff member for the 35-person advisory panel has been marked by a series of bitter confrontations with national AIDS advocacy groups in Washington.

David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign said the administration's drive to leave its ideological stamp on the panel has destroyed its legitimacy. "This is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," he said, adding the whole abstinence before marriage approach, "is not scientifically sound and ignores gay people."

The Post says much of the controversy revolved around comments Ware made regarding the role of gay, white men both in spreading the AIDS virus and in controlling many of the most influential AIDS organizations.


"As an out gay man, I found Pat Ware to be on the verge of homophobic," said the Levi Strauss Foundation's Stuart Burden, who served on the council until last year. "It appeared at times that she wanted to blame the gay community for AIDS."

"She was a champion of Thacker and [the administration] wanted to get that behind them," one council member close to the White House told the newspaper. "Getting rid of her was the way to go."

-- Editor