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Agnos lobbies Washington AIDS - Reagan criticized for 'lack of leadership' on AIDS

United Press International

March 26, 1988, Saturday, PM cycle

 

BYLINE: By SUSAN KROHN

SECTION: Domestic News

LENGTH: 444 words

DATELINE: SAN FRANCISCO

 President Reagan's AIDS commission heard Mayor Art Agnos denounce the federal government for what he called a ''lack of leadership'' in dealing with the AIDS epidemic, which has struck San Francisco especially hard.

''What threatens to overwhelm San Francisco is not the increased caseload of AIDS, but the continued lack of leadership from the federal government,'' Agnos said at commission hearing Friday.

The White House-appointed commission ''is a temporary stopgap, not the national body we need to oversee all the parts of our policy on AIDS,'' he said.

''We did it alone in California, because there was no federal help,'' Agnos said, adding that soaring AIDS-related costs to the city and county of San Francisco have amounted to ''the San Francisco penalty.''

The mayor charged that President Reagan has yet to meet with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to discuss a national AIDS policy, and has started no new program to meet the long-term needs of the growing number of AIDS victims.

He also charged that Reagan won't pay for San Francisco's once-experimental education and treatment programs, even though they now serve as the models for federally funded demonstration projects throughout the nation.

Agnos, a former Democratic state assemblyman, urged the commission to recommend a permanent body to come to grips with the crisis on a nationwide basis.

He noted that AIDS had claimed twice as many lives of residents of San Francisco, which has a large gay community, as World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.

Agnos and the mayors of Sacramento and San Diego urged the commission to push for more funds to combat AIDS and to push for federal measures to halt discrimination against people afflicted with the lethal disease.

Former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein also told the panel, officially the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic, that the federal government should pay for up to 80 percent of the state and local programs and services for AIDS research.

The commission has made a preliminary recommendation that the federal government pay at least 50 percent.

San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor, Sacramento Mayor Ann Rudin and Agnos all concurred that the federal government should fund up to 80 percent of the programs.

The mayors testified before seven of the 12 commission members, who have been charged with the task of investigating the AIDS epidemic and advising President Reagan and members of his cabinet what measures must be taken to protect the public from infection, assist in finding a cure and care for those who already have the disease.