State Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) is making national headlines for an interview he gave on Sirius XM radio.
On the Michelangelo Signorile Show, the Knoxville senator said that homosexuality is harmful and that the HIV epidemic came from a single gay airline employee having sexual relations with a monkey.
He explained that he believes that HIV was started by the homosexual community.
"My understanding... is that virtually, if not completely impossible, to contract AIDS outside of blood transfusions through heterosexual sex. It's virtually impossible," Senator Campfield said on the show.
The Knox County Health Department Director, Dr. Martha Buchanan, and AIDS educator Wayne Smith both said his comments have been proven false. Smith called them "archaic."
"It increases the confusion and the fear when people are giving the wrong information. People need to know the facts and understand the facts," Dr. Buchanan said.
"It's hard to believe that anybody could say those things, believe those things to be true when we know they're not. Especially an elected official," said Smith.
10News sat down with the senator where he confirmed his statements, but said it was taken out of context. He said that he acknowledges that heterosexuals can contract the virus. He meant that certain groups are at much higher risk for AIDS.
"A lot of people trying to gloss over and say it's an every person disease but really it's just those high risk people that are most likely to contract or spread that disease The odds of a regular man getting it from a regular woman are very low," he said.
We asked, "What do you mean by 'regular?'"
He said, "someone who is not from Africa, someone who is not a homosexual, someone who is not an IV drug user, someone who is not sleeping with someone who is one of those things."
Senator Campfield sees nothing wrong with his answers.
"I didn't say I was a gay/AIDS historian. I didn't say I know the facts backwards and forwards I just said what I've heard and the facts back me up," he said.
AIDS Educator Wayne Smith says the facts do not back him up. He's taught classes to take away the stigma of the disease for 15 years and calls Campfield's comments a setback.
"Until things like this happen, then I get in this mode where I feel like we've made a lot of progress," Smith said.
Dr. Buchanan said anyone having unprotected sex can contract HIV.
"In other countries where the virus is much more prevalent, you see just as many cases in heterosexuals as you do in homosexuals," she said.
While the virus did originate in a monkey, the CDC and World Health Organization confirm people contracted the virus through hunting.
Sen. Campfield went on the radio program to talk about his also controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill which would make It illegal for teachers to talk about homosexuality to students.