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AIDS activist Jerry Thacker withdrew his name two weeks ago from the list of Bush administration nominees to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS amid a firestorm of criticism.

After gay groups charged Thacker with calling homosexuality a "deathstyle" and AIDS "the gay plague," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer distanced the President from the endorsement.

"Those words are as wrong as they are inappropriate. And they are not shared by the President," Fleischer told a press briefing. "The views that [Thacker] holds are far, far removed from what the President believes."

On Wednesday The Washington Post reported that the incident has continued to cause waves in the advisory council. Executive director Patricia Ware, who recommended Thacker for nomination, recently relinquished her position. "Administration officials said Ware was being promoted to a more influential role," the Post reported. "But several sources involved … said she was moved to avoid further embarrassment over the selection of Jerry Thacker."

Thacker, a marketing consultant in Pennsylvania, tested positive in 1986 for HIV following a blood donation. After additional blood tests, Thacker discovered that his wife and daughter were both also infected. His wife had apparently contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during her third pregnancy.

Founder of the marketing consultant firm Right Ideas, Thacker then started the not-for-profit Scepter Institute to educate Christians about HIV/AIDS. Through the foundation, Thacker speaks to churches and organizations on AIDS policies, the realities of the disease, and the importance of abstinence and fidelity.

Todd Hertz, assistant online editor for Christianity Today, talked to Thacker this week about his nomination, ...

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Jerry Thacker: Politics Muddies Fight Against AIDS
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February 2003

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