Donald Trump reportedly dug into some very old stereotypes while discussing refugees into the United States, according to a new report about the president’s anti-immigration stances in the New York Times.
During a June meeting with his national security team, Trump reportedly fumed that so many foreigners were still immigrating into the United States, despite his several attempts at passing a travel ban.
According to one person at that meeting, when Trump found out that Haiti had sent 15,000 people to the United States, the president muttered that they “all have AIDS.” Another person who was not present, but was briefed on the meeting, confirmed the comment to the Times.
In a statement to the Times, the White House denied that Trump ever used the word AIDS or “huts” to describe people from another country.
Trump’s association between Haitians and HIV is part of a long-standing stereotype from a time when some people thought only certain groups could contract the virus. HIV used to be called the “4-H” disease because people thought it only affected homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs and Haitians.
President Barack Obama lifted a travel ban on HIV-positive immigrants entering the United States in 2009. The ban had been in place since 1987, when HIV was much less understood. When Obama lifted the ban in 2009, the United States was one of only twelve countries, including Armenia, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, that still had bans according to HIV status.
Haiti does have a high HIV prevalence rate, though it does have a rather high number of people on treatment, as well, according to UNAIDS. Currently, about 55% of people living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment and the number of people diagnosed with HIV ever year has fallen 25% since 2010.