Saturday, December 8, 2007

New Yorkers Say Giuliani Showed "Zero Concern" for People Living with AIDS

GiulianiFrom Kaiser Daily: NewYork City-based HIV/AIDS advocacy group Housing Works recently criticized former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, for his work on HIV/AIDS issues while in office, the Boston Globe reports. Giuliani "showed absolutely zero concern for people living with AIDS and HIV" during his eight years as mayor, Housing Works President Charles King said. He added, "We had to litigate against him from the beginning of his term to force his administration to follow New York law with regard to the provision of services and care to persons with AIDS and HIV."

Giuliani on World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 said that if he is elected president, he would "continue America's life-saving role as a leader in the global fight against HIV/AIDS until the day humanity can declare victory against this deadly disease." However, King said Giuliani's statements are "gross hypocrisy." According to King, Giuliani's administration withdrew the group's city contracts as punishment for its "frequent, very aggressive criticism" of Giuliani and his policies, the Globe reports.

In 2005, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (R) administration settled a lawsuit for $4.8 million that Housing Works had filed against Giuliani's administration over the contracts dispute, but the city did not acknowledge any misconduct in the case, the Globe reports. Maria Comella, Giuliani's campaign spokesperson, said funding levels for HIV/AIDS-related services remained consistent while Giuliani was in office. In addition, the Giuliani administration maintained at the time that Housing Works' contracts were terminated because of mismanagement.

Housing Works also was among several organizations to file lawsuits against Giuliani's administration on free speech issues, the Globe reports. The group won federal court approval in 1998 to use the plaza outside City Hall for World AIDS Day observance, but Giuliani had closed the area for public demonstration citing terrorist threats, according to the Globe. King said that his group was "surrounded by police in riot gear" and confined in penned areas during the event. Comella said that as "a precautionary measure," groups using City Hall for rallies and demonstrations were "all asked to use the same safety procedures while using the space" (Mooney, Boston Globe, 12/7).


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