Jerry Thacker, the Christian activist who once described HIV/AIDS as the "Gay Plague" has withdrawn his nomination to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Thacker's nomination triggered widespread criticism among Gay Rights Groups. The largest of such groups, the Human Rights Campaign, called him a "bigot." It urged the White House to change its mind. Mr. Thacker had called homosexuality a "sin" and described it as a "deathstyle" not a lifestyle.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday, "The views that he (Thacker)holds are far, far removed from what the President believes." Mr. Thacker's website says his wife contracted the AIDS virus, HIV, in 1984 from a blood transfusion and subsequently infected him and their daughter.

The Human Rights Campaign also called on the Bush Administration to stop using abstinence as the main theme of its HIV/AIDS policy, saying, "it is not based on sound science." It also criticizes the administration for not promoting the use of condoms for safe sex.