http://www.nytimes.com/politics/fir...nton-lauds-reagans-on-aids-a-backlash-erupts/ But on Friday, Hillary Clinton praised Mrs. Reagan as a force in confronting another disease: H.I.V./AIDS, which was killing alarming numbers of gay men and others during Ronald Reagan’s two terms. “It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s,” Mrs. Clinton, who was attending Mrs. Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley, Calif., told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it.” The problem with Mrs. Clinton’s compliment: It was the Reagans who wanted nothing to do with the disease at the time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first identified the disease in 1981, but Mr. Reagan, despite desperate calls for action and thousands of deaths, did not mention H.I.V. or AIDS publicly until 1985 and did not give a speech about the disease until 1987, when an estimated 40,000 people had already died of the disease and roughly 36,000 more had given a diagnosis. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_policy_of_the_Ronald_Reagan_administration#Response_to_AIDS Reagan prevented his Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, from speaking out about the AIDS epidemic. When in 1986 Reagan was highly encouraged by many other public officials to authorize Koop to issue a report on the epidemic, he expected it to be in line with conservative policies; instead, Koop's Surgeon General's Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome greatly emphasized the importance of a comprehensive AIDS education strategy, including widespread distribution of condoms, and rejected mandatory testing. This approach brought Koop into conflict with other administration officials such as Education Secretary William Bennett. In 1988, Koop took the unprecedented action of mailing AIDS information to every U.S. household. This information included the use of condoms as the decisive defense against contracting the disease. Social action groups such as ACT UP worked to raise awareness of the AIDS problem. Because of ACT UP, in 1987, Reagan responded by appointing the Watkins Commission on AIDS, which was succeeded by a permanent advisory council. Supporters of Reagan past and present have pointed out the fact that he declared in the aforementioned September 1985 press conference that he wanted from Congress massive government research effort against AIDS similar to one President Nixon had oversaw against cancer. Reagan said, "It's been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for '86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I'm sure other medical groups are doing." He also remarked, "Yes, there's no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer." Annual AIDS related funding was $8 million in 1983, 2 years after he took office, and was $1.6 billion in 1988, an increase of over 1000 percent.