White House Falsely Takes Credit for George W. Bush-Era Commemoration of World AIDS Day

Sean Neumann
·2-min read

Drew Angerer/Getty A giant red ribbon honors World AIDS Day outside the White House

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany boasted that Donald Trump was honoring World AIDS Day unlike any other president — when, in fact, the White House commemoration dates back to George W. Bush.

“The president honored World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before, with the red ribbon there,” McEnany, 32, told reporters during her press briefing Wednesday.

However, the hanging of a giant red ribbon outside the White House’s north portico — in recognition of World AIDS Day — was a tradition of both former Presidents Bush and Barack Obama as well as Trump.

McEnany was responding to a question from Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson about why Trump, 74, had issued an annual World AIDS Day proclamation that “omitted any reference to LGBTQ people, even though they bear the brunt of HIV/AIDS.”

Trump has a history of anti-LGBTQ positions, particularly with transgender people, though his aides have argued he is a gay-friendly president.

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Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

McEnany said Wednesday she thinks the president “commemorated the day as he should have.”

"But Obama WH also did red ribbon...not hard to find," tweeted ABC News reporter Karen Travers, sharing a link to a White House archive of photos of the ribbon hanging at the White House in 2012 when Obama was in office.

The Trump proclamation this week was the fourth time he recognized World AIDS Day without noting its disproportionate impact on LGBTQ community, the Blade reported.

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In contrast, the Blade reports Obama’s last proclamation recognizing the day in 2016 noted how HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts “gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs.”

Trump incorrectly said in June that the scientists working on a vaccine for COVID-19 had also “come up with the AIDS vaccine,” which doesn’t exist.

About 38,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with an HIV infection in 2018, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.