Donald Trump had to ask Bill Gates – twice – if there was a difference between HIV and HPV, two radically different viruses that are associated with completely different illnesses, People is reporting.
The billionaire philanthropist was speaking at a Gates Foundation event when he made the revelation. Video of that event was unearthed by MSNBC’s All in With Chris Hayes and aired on Thursday night.
Gates revealed two separate conversations he had with Trump during which the subject of vaccines came up. One was at Trump Tower in 2016, and one was at the White House in 2017. Both times, said Gates, Trump was confused about the difference between HPV and HIV.
“Both times, he wanted to know if there was a difference between HPV and HIV.”
And according to Gates, the two viruses are “rarely confused” with each other, something that Gates apparently told Trump, in addition to explaining the difference.
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is a group of 150 related viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These viruses can cause warts, both of the genital variety and otherwise. Though HPV can be sexually transmitted, just as often it is transmitted through other skin-to-skin contact. The viruses are so common that nearly every adult will contract some of them during their lives.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is spread through unprotected sex or through the sharing of dirty needles.
What’s more, Gates claimed, Trump wanted to know if Bill might be on board with creating a commission to study vaccines.
“In both of those two meetings, he asked me if vaccines weren’t a bad thing because he was considering a commission to look into ill effects of vaccines.”
Gates was not on board.
“No, that’s a dead end. That would be a bad thing. Don’t do that.”
According to a 2015 New Republic report, vaccines – once as much a part of childhood as going to school or learning to ride a bike – are now the subject of intense controversy in the U.S. In fact, vaccination rates are falling. And diseases such as measles – once considered a thing of the past – are making a comeback. The reasons for this are varied, but much of the hostility toward vaccines comes from a distrust of the government, claims the report.
As for Gates, Trump also asked him to be a “science adviser,” a job opportunity he turned down.