MOPE604 - Poster Exhibition
From grid to gridlock: the relationship between scientific breakthroughs and HIV/AIDS policy in the U.S. Congress
M. Platt1, M. Platt2
1Harvard, Government, Cambridge, United States, 2Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, Biomedical Engineering, Atlanta, United States
30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS celebrated scientific progress and
movement towards eradication and cure. Less discussion has occurred
of how scientific progress and U.S. laws regarding HIV/AIDS have
interacted, particularly in the wake of antiquated
laws established during the early years of the epidemic, yet extended due
to politics, ideologies, and stigma influencing today's Congress.
We begin that discussion by examining the relationship between major
scientific discoveries in HIV/AIDS and U.S. Congressional attention
toward HIV/AIDS policy issues from 1981 to 2011.
Methods: Using the Library of Congress's THOMAS site with Congressional Research
Service search terms, we collected and coded HIV/AIDS bills from 1981
to 2010 and supplemented bill-level data with Congressional Bills
Project, NOMINATE scores, and Congressional Biographical Data on
voting members of Congress. Major scientific breakthroughs regarding
HIV/AIDS were compiled from papers published in high impact
scientific journals or those deemed seminal by the basic and clinical
scientific community. This allowed us to establish a relationship (or
lack thereof) between scientific progress and congressional
attention, at aggregate and individual levels. Descriptive
statistics, event count analysis, and multi-level logistic regression
will all be used for final analyses.
results suggest congressional attention to HIV/AIDS is driven by
standard variables in political science literature - party
affiliation, ideology, majority status, etc. However, the analysis
of content coding suggests congressional attention has become more
humane and inclusive (as opposed to discriminatory) over time. The
expectation from ongoing sophisticated multivariate analysis is that
little evidence exists of Congress allocating attention to HIV/AIDS
in response to important scientific discoveries and breakthroughs.
trumps science as a driver of congressional agenda setting. However,
there is still an important role for scientific discovery in crafting
the content of legislation. Future work should include scientific
progress as an important exogenous component of how policymakers pay
attention to disease.
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