FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AIDS Audit Advocates Turn Their Backs on Pelosi
30 July 1999
S.F. activist ambushed and arrested by cops at HIV surveillance fiasco.
WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday's conference sponsored by the National Institute
of Mental Health entitled "Early Detection of HIV: Emerging Issues in
Prevention and Care" got off to a rocky start when activists from San
Francisco confronted Representative Nancy Pelosi over the lack of fiscal
accountability in federally funded AIDS research and care programs. By day's
end the conference had disintegrated into a total fiasco with frequent
disruptions, the bloody seizure of a conference-goer and one member of ACT UP
San Francisco ambushed and arrested after a frantic call placed to D.C.
police by UCSF AIDS researcher Thomas Coates.
The morning began when David Pasquarelli and Ronnie Burk of ACT UP and
Michael Petrelis of the AIDS Accountability Project stood with their backs to
S.F. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as she gave a 15-minute opening speech urging
support for increased federal spending on expanded HIV testing, reporting and
surveillance. The three activists -- with the words "WE NEED AID$ AUDITS
NOW!" emblazoned on signs taped to their backs and held up to the audience --
booed, hissed and loudly demanded support for the pending General Accounting
Office (GAO) audits from a nervous Pelosi who quickly exited the auditorium.
After her departure, ACT UP members questioned conference panelists about the
notorious unreliability of HIV antibody testing and denounced the use of
taxpayer dollars for any form of HIV reporting. They also condemned the
sudden shift by the Centers for Disease Control away from tracking AIDS cases
and deaths to surveillance efforts that exclusively monitor only those who
test HIV antibody positive.
That afternoon, Michael Petrelis of the AIDS Accountability Project grilled
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) representative Joe
O'Neil, M.D. about the diversion of 2.5 million dollars of Ryan White CARE
Act funding from AIDS programs in San Juan, Puerto Rico. O'Neil refused to
"People with AIDS in San Juan died because you allowed federal money
earmarked for drugs, food and housing subsidies to be instead spent on
political campaigns for Al Gore's cronies, and all you can say is 'No
Comment?' Have you no shame for your role in this scandal?" Petrelis shouted
into the microphone.
Presenters and audience members, on edge because of Petrelis' onslaught and
tense after a fellow attendee's sudden and inexplicable collapse from a
violent and bloody seizure, reconvened for the day's final panel that
featured UCSF Thomas Coates promoting the idea of exporting AIDS drugs to
Africa. Unbeknownst to conference organizers, hotel security or audience
members, Coates had called in a squad of D.C. police officers to silence any
outbursts by the controversial Bay Area activists during his presentation.
Shocked audience members watched as ACT UP member David Pasquarelli was
ambushed and beaten on the way into the auditorium by a half-dozen police
officers who arrested him for disorderly conduct. The ACT UP activist was
taken into custody, forced to pay a fifty dollar fine then released.
"This conference was a perfect symbol of the madness called today's AIDS
research," commented Pasquarelli. "Out-of-control government spending on
dangerous biotech products that injure and kill. Of course, if you dare speak
out against this lunacy the AIDS industry shuts you up by tossing you in
Press photos (digital and paper) are available of the D.C. AIDS Audit Ambush.
David Pasquarelli: (202) 338-4600 ext. 333
Michael Petrelis: (202) 546-2778
ACT UP San Francisco * 1884 Market Street * San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 864-6686 * Fax: (415) 864-6687 * Web: www.actupsf.com * Email: