Bernie Sanders scraps meeting with HIV coalition but won’t say why

An HIV charity coalition has gone public, after the Bernie Sanders campaign cancelled a planned meeting with without explanation – suggesting his campaign may be gearing down.

HIV/AIDS has been a contentious issue during the Democratic race, with Hillary Clinton forced to apologise in March for suggesting the Reagans had a good record on the issue – when the Reagan White House was notorious for its callous silence on the early AIDS epidemic.

The mix-up dented Clinton’s pre-existing lead on the issue, with Bernie Sanders releasing an HIV action plan in a bid to win support from activists.

In the wake of the gaffe, both Clinton and Sanders agreed to meet with a coalition of national and local HIV/AIDS charities to discuss their respective plans.

However, the HIV coalition has this week gone public after Sanders abruptly cancelled his meeting with no explanation. The group say his campaign ceased all contact despite attempts to reschedule.

Rights activist Peter Staley told the Washington Blade that the coalition had been attempting to reschedule for over a week with no reply from the Sanders campaign before making the cancellation public.

He said: “They sent a ‘need to reschedule’ email last Sunday (for our Tuesday meeting), and then bizarrely stopped communications completely after that.

“We’ve been emailing and calling every day since then, including warning them days ago about our intent to go public.”

Hilary McQuie of HIV activist group Health GAP told the Blade: He did cancel — no reason given and they have not rescheduled.

“We feel a bit burned by the bern, and hope they will answer our emails now.”

Hillary Clinton currently has a massive lead among Democratic delegates – making it nearly impossible for Sanders to catch up without landslides in all remaining states and a Damascene conversion among superdelegates.

Due to the shifting landscape of the race, the cancellation could signal a shift from serious Presidential campaign to protest effort for Senator Sanders – who appears to have cut down on policy announcements.

Charles King of HIV homelessness charity Housing Works said: “I have been a supporter of Bernie Sanders, and was proud to vote for him in the New York primary.

“It is disheartening to see the ‘revolutionary’ candidate who claims to value grassroots organizing and visionary politics not make time in his schedule to meet with us.

“He is supposed to be the guy who walks the walk, but all we’ve heard the past six weeks is talk—and fairly tepid, reactive talk at that.”

The Sanders campaign did not return a request for comment.