December 10, 2018 Press Release

Trump’s Health Department Shuts Down HIV Research Study, Continues Pandering to Anti-Abortion Interest Groups

Equity Forward calls move “unethical, hypocritical and cruel”

12.10.18 – Under the leadership of Secretary Alex Azar, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has shut down a study that could potentially find a cure for HIV because the research relies on cells derived from fetal tissue.  Since 1994, vaccines developed from fetal tissue research have prevented 322 million illnesses, 732,000 premature deaths, and saved $1.38 trillion. Fetal tissue had also been used well before the mid-1990s and was integral to the development of the polio vaccine, a disease which has been nearly eradicated.

HIV researchers are calling the move “devastating.”  Equity Forward issued the following statement in response:

“How dare the Trump administration and Secretary Azar tout their “pro-life” bona fides when they’re literally gutting life-saving research and putting the health of millions at risk?” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.

“It’s unethical, hypocritical and cruel for the Trump administration to roll back years of scientific progress in finding a cure for HIV and potentially other diseases in order to appease a small group of anti-abortion extremists.  Our nation’s health department should be working to advance our health and should be using science as their guide, not politics.

Today’s news comes a little over two months after Secretary Azar — bowing to pressure from the anti-abortion lobby — abruptly cancelled a long-standing contract with a fetal tissue provider while also announcing “a comprehensive review” of all fetal tissue research and procurement.  It has been reported that Azar is considering discontinuing more than $100 million in research projects involving fetal tissue and is soliciting input on plans from anti-abortion interest groups including Susan B Anthony (SBA) List, whose President was an outspoken Trump campaigner.  In addition to holding extreme and out-of-touch views on abortion — including advocating for abortion bans without an exception for rape and incest — SBA List also promotes the work of the man who champions bogus science, such as the idea that a woman’s body has properties to protect  her from getting pregnant after rape.