He made that announcement in front of a group of foreign diplomats, telling them the treatment was revealed to him by his ancestors in a dream.
Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”
Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”
(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)
Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”
Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”
Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”
Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”
Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”
Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”
Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”
Asked if he had any HIV symptoms, he responded, "No, I don't. As I stand before you I can honestly tell you I have ceased to have any HIV symptoms."
Patient after patient gave similar statements to CNN. But it was difficult to verify the authenticity of their testimony.
Domestic criticism muted
Sarr is one of only a handful of prominent Gambians willing to publicly question the president's cure.
Since Jammeh came to power in 1993, human rights groups say that freedom of expression has been increasingly stifled in the tiny West African country, and criticisms of the president are rare.
Asked to give a medical evaluation of the cure, a Gambian doctor refused saying: "In the current political climate, I could lose my business." The doctor requested anonymity and refused to publicly or privately denounce the claim.
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