FOX's Hume cited ambiguous stats to support claim that AIDS sufferers "bring it on themselves"October 15, 2004 5:46 PM EDT ››› JEREMY CLUCHEY
FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume attempted to defend Maryland comptroller and Democratic former governor William Donald Schaefer's October 12 remarks that "people who have AIDS are a danger" and that "they bring it on themselves" by citing statistics that Hume claimed came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
From the October 14 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume:
HUME: Democrats in Maryland are condemning fellow Democrat William Donald Schaefer, the state's popular and outspoken comptroller and former governor, for saying people suffering from AIDS, quote, "Brought [sic] it on themselves." "Sad, mean-spirited and counter-productive," said Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley. "Appalling, insensitive, and frankly ignorant," said Democratic delegate John Hurson, who is calling for Schaefer's resignation.
But according to the Center for Disease -- Centers for Disease Control, much more than 90 percent of all AIDS cases in the United States are the result of voluntary behavior, namely, sex or drug use.
Beyond the mention of "sex" and "drug use," Hume did not elaborate on what he meant by "voluntary behavior." A Media Matters for America search of CDC reports uncovered no statistics on the role of "voluntary behavior" in the spread of HIV/AIDS, though the CDC does publish statistical reports on the causes of HIV/AIDS infections. According to those reports, "sexual contact accounts for 75 percent of infections" among women, while "over one-fourth (28%) of all AIDS cases among men in the US occurred through injection drug use and heterosexual sexual contact," with most of the rest resulting from homosexual contact.
A report posted on the CDC website, titled "Genetics and Public Health in the 21st Century," discusses the prevalence of the subjective view that HIV/AIDS patients are to blame for their illness, explaining that HIV and AIDS "often carry a stigma arising from the perception that they are just desserts for voluntary behavior."