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Clinton: Nancy Reagan Helped ‘National Conversation’ on HIV, AIDS

Hillary Clinton suggested that Nancy Reagan helped the “national conversation” on AIDS and HIV on Friday.

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was to talk about HIV [and] AIDS back in the 1980s,” she said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on the day of Reagan’s funeral.

“Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation where before nobody would talk about it,” Clinton continued. “Nobody wanted anything to do with it.

“That too is something I really appreciate with her very effective, low-key advocacy. It penetrated the public conscience. People began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”

The Hill reports:

Clinton, herself a former first lady, also praised Nancy Reagan’s loving marriage and personal strength in the national eye.

“I think she had not only an incredible relationship with her husband … but she had a lot of courage and grit,” the former secretary of State said.

Clinton was speaking just before Nancy Reagan’s funeral, a private affair at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Nancy Reagan, 94, died earlier this week of congestive heart failure in Bel Air, Calif., inspiring an outpouring of national sympathy.

First lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, and former first lady Rosalyn Carter were among the other political luminaries in attendance at the funeral.

The Reagan administration struggled with its approach for combating the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

The Guardian reported Friday that Ronald Reagan did not utter the word “AIDS” publicly until five years into his presidency. The epidemic has since killed more than 650,000 Americans, isolating even more who live with the condition but struggle with public acceptance.

Discrimination against those with HIV and AIDS was common in the ’80s.

Photo credit: Reagan Library.

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