U2’s Bono praised Vice President Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference in Germany for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), despite the fact that Pence is responsible for a HIV outbreak in his home state of Indiana. Bono also called Pence the “second busiest man on earth.”
Former President George W. Bush signed the agreement in 2003, which designated $15 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as treatment and research in developing countries. The initiative now provides antiretroviral drugs to 11.5 million people.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) February 18, 2017
Bono’s praise for Pence comes from the fact that he voted for PEPFAR in both 2003 and 2008 while he was an Indiana congressman.
Bono explained, “Twice on the House floor you defended that. That’s how we know you.”
Pence responded saying that,“it was an extraordinary historic accomplishment. You played a leading role in carrying it forward.”
However, Pence’s history with HIV and AIDS is much more complicated than that. In praising the now-Vice President, Bono seemed to overlook the role Mr. Pence played in a massive HIV outbreak while he was an Indiana congressman and later as governor. For example, while he was a congressman, the House passed his amendment which effectively defunded Planned Parenthood.
Later, as governor, cuts in public health spending shut down the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County. This left the county’s 24,000 residents without a clinic to get tested for HIV and other STDs. This closing is one of several factors that may have influenced the spike that was seen in 2015 in HIV infections — which was reportedly the worst in Indiana’s history. The outbreak was so severe that Pence later declared a state of emergency.
Many were quick to pick up on Bono’s pitfall in praising Pence:
Does Bono know that Mike Pence is responsible for 100+ people contracting HIV in ONE Indiana county? https://t.co/YeYu6QQqPa
— Feminisce Mackie (@FeministaJones) February 19, 2017
Just when you think Bono couldn't be more of an arse… he goes and tells Mike Pence "it's amazing, you've really hit the ground running". pic.twitter.com/LweyZzVHZS
— Liam O'Hare (@Liam_O_Hare) February 19, 2017