Presidential NIH Visits: Ronald Reagan, 1987

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When David Poplak, M.D., was a medical fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), he witnessed a watershed moment during President Ronald Reagan's visit to the NIH Clinical Center on July 23, 1987.

“When President Reagan came to NIH and visited our ward, Phil [Philip Pizzo, M.D., Chief of the NCI Pediatric Oncology Branch at the time] took him on rounds and was holding a baby who had HIV. He said, ‘Here, Mr. President, why don’t you hold him,’ and literally handed the baby to Reagan… [who] embraced the child. The next day, there was a photo of Reagan with the baby in The New York Times. I think it did more to de-stigmatize the disease than any other photo.”

Excerpted from Stanford Medicine's "Marathon Man" at