Schaefer modifies his proposal for HIV/AIDS registry

Critics decry idea to list `intentional' spreaders

October 23, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer clarified his support of a registry of people with HIV/AIDS yesterday, saying he wants a public list of only those who intentionally spread the disease to others.

Under fire for stating that AIDS victims were to blame for their disease and were a danger to society in comments two weeks ago, Schaefer, speaking on the Chip Franklin Show on WBAL radio, said he is only trying to stop the spread of HIV.

"To me, a woman on the street, a prostitute that intentionally gives a person AIDS, she should be on the registry," he said. "A man who intentionally gives a woman AIDS, that person should be on the registry. ... Let's put on the registry those who are known givers of AIDS, that's all."

Schaefer said he met Thursday with AIDS activists and clarified his views then. The meeting was "one of the finest" he has ever had, but the activists still did not agree with him, he said.

Minutes after the comptroller's appearance on the radio show, a small group of protesters outside the statehouse ratcheted up the anti-Schaefer rhetoric, comparing his call for an AIDS registry to Nazi laws requiring Jews, homosexuals and others to wear identifying marks on their clothing. Holding posters with a picture of Schaefer on which they had drawn a Hitler mustache and an armband with a red AIDS ribbon, they said the comptroller's revised position was no improvement.

"That's just ludicrous," said James Packard-Gomez, a protest organizer from Laytonsville. "How are you going to define who is trying to intentionally spread it?"

Schaefer spokesman Michael Golden said the comptroller is interested in compiling a list of those who have been convicted of the crime of knowingly transmitting HIV or AIDS. That information is in the public record but is not now published in the way the state's sex offender registry is, Golden said.

The protesters called for a boycott on Maryland tourism and on the purchase of Maryland goods until Schaefer resigns.

"The people of Maryland should not let this harmful man represent the state," said Craig Shireman, another protester from Laytonsville.

A week ago, Del. John Adams Hurson, a Montgomery County Democrat who is chairman of the house Health and Government Operations Committee, called on Schaefer to resign over his AIDS comments.

Schaefer's support of an AIDS registry isn't new - he pushed the idea a decade ago, but the legislature defeated the effort. He said on the radio that he doesn't expect to be successful this time either.

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