If you want to know the barriers people with HIV/AIDS faced in the early 1980's just read this transcript between White House Press Secretary Larry Speckes (Reagan was President) and the media. By this time, over six hundred people had died from HIV/AIDS in America. It was one big joke in the White House Press room.
President Reagan, Press Secretary Speckes and the press should be ashamed of this moment in history.
Question: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement — the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
MR. SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?
Question: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
Question: No, I don’t.
MR. SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.
Question: Well, I just wondered, does the President—
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
Question: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.
Questoin: Does the President, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any—
Question: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Question: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping—
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no—(laughter)—no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
Question: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.
Question: Didn’t say that?
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)
Question: Because I love you, Larry, that’s why. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKES: Oh, I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
Question: Oh, I retract that.