Margaret Thatcher Created One Of The World's First Needle Exchanges
Margaret Thatcher is a polarizing figure in the United Kingdom, but ask any Brit about her legacy, and you'll hear more or less the same thing, give or take some cursing. She tends to be remembered for her attacks on unions, healthcare, and free milk, but her most extreme policy was the Umbridge-esque Section 28, which banned the "practice and promotion" of h**osexuality. That's right, all promotion of h**osexuality in the UK -- billboards, commercials, skywriting -- ground to a halt. They were dark times.
Which is weird, because Thatcher's response to the AIDS epidemic would be considered progressive even today. That is, as long as the afflicted came about their infection the moral way -- through the use of intravenous drugs. Despite objections that it would promote debauchery and drug use, Thatcher implemented the UK's needle exchange program in 1986. Keep in mind, it was only the second program of its kind in the entire world. (After the Netherlands, which is where they keep the lab for growing experimental policy.) Reagan couldn't even say the word "AIDS," while Thatcher was punching it right in the nucleoid.
Michael Evans/The White HouseAdmittedly, doing more than Reagan on AIDS wasn’t a high bar to clear.