FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Activists Upset Secret Senate Hearing on "AIDS Complacency"
14 Feb. 2000
Widespread industry corruption charged as AIDS numbers drop
San Francisco -- A dozen angry activists were ejected from a Senate
Appropriations Committee hearing convened today to discuss AIDS complacency
and increased funding for HIV research and prevention. The protestors charge
that government officials staged the secret hearing and invited only AIDS
bureaucrats that promote alarmist rhetoric to garner more federal funding.
The hearing was not publicized through any community newspaper or
AIDS-related website. U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Barbara Boxer,
Representative Nancy Pelosi and California Assemblywoman Carole Migden joined
UCSF AIDS researcher Thomas Coates in calling for expanded AIDS funding.
Activists entered the hearing, positioning themselves throughout the small
audience of 30 AIDS industry insiders. As Specter began the proceedings they
leapt to their feet and began chanting "AIDS disappears as CDC funds fear!"
and "Corruption not complacency is the real AIDS news!" Several ACT UP
members stormed the stage and held signs reading "Stop Funding AIDS Terror"
while other activists plastered the walls with stickers reading "AIDS is
"It's a disgrace. The Senate holds a secret hearing excluding people who
aren't on the AIDS gravy train. If this is indicative of how Congress plans
to conduct Ryan White hearings this spring the American public is in
trouble," warned ACT UP member David Pasquarelli. "Instead of private
hearings on AIDS complacency, Congress should conduct a public investigation
of AIDS fraud."
ACT UP members charge that despite dramatic across-the-board drops in new
U.S. AIDS cases that began in 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and AIDS organizations and health departments that receive
CDC money constantly promote an alarming message of unfounded AIDS paranoia
to justify increased federal dollars. Furthermore, protestors say that AIDS
receives a disproportionately excessive amount of funding given its
relatively small impact on America's health compared to heart disease, cancer
and even car accidents. Most of the money, they say, never reaches patients
but is instead spent on high non-profit salaries and overhead.
As clients of AIDS Inc. eagerly anticipate the results of General Accounting
Office audits, ACT UP San Francisco urges members of Congress to cut back
wasteful spending and implement stringent oversight policies for the Ryan
White CARE Act, established as emergency legislation when AIDS was viewed as
"The continuing AIDS scandal in Puerto Rico where $2.2 million of federal
AIDS funding was diverted into political campaigns demonstrates that Congress
must view Ryan White reauthorization as a deliberate and methodical process
that considers longstanding AIDS abuses," commented Michael Petrelis of the
AIDS Accountability Project (www.accountabilityproject.com)."Pelosi's
district received $65 million in federal AIDS funding last year, yet Tony
Leone, the late San Francisco Democratic machine activist, complained
bitterly that he couldn't even get a 13¢ diaper when hospitalized. Something
David Pasquarelli: (415) 637-4666
Michael Petrelis of the AIDS Accountability Project: (415) 621-6267
Digital and paper press photos of ACT UP’s Senate Hearing Upset are
available. Contact ACT UP at 1884 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.
Phone: (415) 864-6686. Fax: (415) 864-6687. Web: www.actupsf.com.