Bono praises Mike Pence for his work on HIV/AIDS
On Saturday, U2 frontman and activist Bono praised US Vice President Mike Pence for his record of voting in favor of former President George W. Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The five-year bilateral agreement, introduced in 2003, designated $15 billion to be spent on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research in developing countries. The program provides antiretroviral drugs to 11.5 million people.
Pence, then an Indiana congressman, voted for PEPFAR twice, in 2003 and 2008. “Twice on the House floor you defended that,” Bono said. “That’s how we know you.”
However, Pence's record on HIV/AIDS is more complicated than Bono's praise would suggest. In 2011, he was responsible for the amendment passed by the House to defund Planned Parenthood. During Pence's first year as Indiana governor in 2013, the only Planned Parenthood in Scott County, Indiana, was closed due to public health spending cuts. As a result, 24,000 residents were left without an HIV testing facility. It is thought that this closing may have played a role in Indiana's worst spike in HIV infections in 2015. In the wake of this outbreak, Pence, who also voted against needle exchange programs that can help limit the spread of HIV, declared a state of emergency in Indiana.
Bono, who is known as an LGBTQ activist, did not comment on Pence's anti-equality platform.