28. Minutes of a Domestic Policy Council Meeting1


  • The President, Vice President, Messrs. Hodel, Shultz, Weinberger, Herrington, Bennett, Baker, Burns, Whitfield, Newman, Covitz, Wright, Cribb, Ms. Risque, Messrs. Bauer, Dawson, Donatelli, Fitzwater, Hobbs, Duberstein, Sprinkel, Tuck, Dyer, Graham, Green, Greenleaf, Parvin, Sweet, Ms. Horner, Messrs. Koop, Mason, Windom, Galebach, Ms. Faoro

AIDS Testing

The President opened the meeting and turned to Secretary Hodel, who briefly reviewed the AIDS issues. Mr. Bauer provided background about AIDS testing, pointing out that we are faced with a major problem in testing for the HIV virus. He indicated that, with respect to other [Page 78]contagious diseases, testing is a standard Public Health Service practice, and national surveys have shown a fair amount of public support for the testing of individuals for the HIV virus. The President observed that we already have laws at the local level which require testing individuals for contagious diseases, and wanted to know why the HIV virus couldn’t be added to the list of communicable diseases. Mr. Bauer responded that this is one of the recommendations.

Mr. Hodel suggested an epidemiological probe to determine the incidence of HIV in America. The Council agreed to move forward with the study. On the issue of whether HIV testing should be done for aliens and immigrants, Secretary Shultz said the problem is not with the principle of testing, but rather with the implementation of testing and the fact that it would be done in other countries without the sterile medical practices we have in the U.S. He said that quality control is important. The President asked about the distinction between the HIV virus and AIDS. Mr. Windom explained that AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection and that the HIV virus can lie dormant for years before the symptoms are apparent.

Secretary Weinberger described the Department of Defense program used to test for the HIV virus and said, based on their experience, there are ways to do the testing if we decide to go forward with this policy. Mr. Shultz said that before we issue a rule, we need to know what to do. Surgeon General Koop said that 37 nations now have reported the HIV infection. Mr. Burns offered that while there are practical problems, we could do the testing in the United States if necessary. Mr. Weinberger said he could see no insurmountable problems to testing. Mr. Cribb stated that there would be a comment period before the rule is made final anyway, which would allow time for an implementation plan to be developed. Mr. Wright stated that a final rule on AIDS testing is ready to be released and he believed it is possible to work out the differences in placing the HIV virus on the list of dangerous contagious diseases. Secretary Herrington agreed.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to AIDS.]

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Bledsoe, Ralph: Files, DPC Meeting Minutes 1987–1988 (2). No classification marking. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House.