Anthony Fauci compares race disparities of coronavirus to AIDS epidemic
White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak’s disproportionate death toll among black Americans reminds him of HIV/AIDS largely impacting gay people.
“I couldn’t help sitting there reflecting about sometimes when you’re in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does… ultimately shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society,” Fauci said Tuesday at a White House press conference.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said “as some of you know the greater proportion of my professional career has been defined by HIV/AIDS.”
He continued: “And if you go back then during that period of time when there was extraordinary stigma particularly against the gay community.
“And it was only when the world realized how the gay community responded to this outbreak with incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism —I think that really changed some of the stigma against the gay community. Very much so.”
African-Americans dying at greater rates from COVID-19 could be a similar moment, he said.
“I see a similarity here because health disparities have always existed for the African-American community,” Fauci said.
“Here again with the crisis, how it’s shining a bright light on how unacceptable that is because, yet again, when you have a situation like the coronavirus they are suffering disproportionately.
“As Dr. Birx said correctly, it’s not that they are getting infected more often, it’s that when they do get infected their underlying medical conditions — the diabetes, hypertension, the obesity, the asthma — those are the kind of things that wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give him a higher death rate.”
Fauci said, “when all this is over and, as we said, it will end, we will get over coronavirus, but there will still be health disparities which we really do need to address in the African American community.”
The respiratory virus has infected nearly 400,000 US residents and killed almost 13,000.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded to data indicating higher minority death tolls by calling for coronavirus legislation to consider reparations.
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