The response to the AIDS epidemic that ripped through the gay community starting in the early years of the Reagan administration can be best characterized by how most health and social issues are dealt with in contemporary politics today, with a marked lack of empathy. It’s how the system works: politicize an issue that has a clear solution in loaded, polarizing terms that all but guarantees its solution will not be met. Take what we’ve got at the top of the news now, a presidential candidate who believes the unemployed are lazy, disability recipients are moochers, welfare beneficiaries are self-victimized, and other issues of the 47%. In the 1980s you could add to that list, gays are immoral and AIDS was their retribution. That’s how you spin it—you characterize those in need as bad.
The analogy is slightly loose here, but it is a helpful reminder that the “blame the victims” mentality has been endemic to conservatism for some time.