This is in response to your Associated Press story last week on the group of people calling themselves “Act Up/San Francisco “ and their threats on San Francisco Chronicle employees. Many Daily Planet readers have called us asking what is really going on.
Your readers should know that “Act up/San Francisco” has been disavowed and disowned by the Act Up Network comprised of chapters in Philadelphia, NY, DC, Paris, East Bay, Cleveland, Boston, LA and Survive AIDS (formerly Act UP/Golden Gate). We work closely with Doctors Without Borders, the hunger group Oxfam, Consumer Project on Technology (a Nader offshoot), South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Group, and HealthGAP (Global Action Campaign), among others.
We all believe that HIV is, at the very least, a major co-factor causing AIDS, and that AIDS is a global catastrophe. We also believe that all HIV infected individuals should have access to treatments currently available only in industrialized countries.
“Act Up/SF” has usurped our name, damaged our credibility and hurt many HIV infected people with their messianic misinformation campaign, “HIV does not cause AIDS, AIDS is over.” Their sheer hypocrisy is demonstrated by their $1.6 million annual business of selling medical marijuana to people with a “harmless” virus. If they argue that this is alternative treatment, why did they campaign to stop Federal funding to other treatments such as acupuncture, vitamins, and Chinese herbs?
Their radical pretense is undermined by the fact that conservative Republican venture capitalist, Robert Leppo, underwrote the purchase of its building. While many nonprofits are feeling the dot.com pinch, “Act Up/SF” thrives with its lucrative pot business and Republican backers. Even more than the flawed AIDS agencies they criticize, “Act Up/SFers” are lining their pockets on people’s suffering. Their behavior towards the media, health departments and other AIDS activists is reprehensible.
It’s an easy route. If AIDS is over one need not campaign for needle exchange funding, condoms in schools, or better medical care. One need not challenge pharmaceutical companies’ profits and patents to make treatments available to all who want them. “Act Up/SF” would deny people in Africa the option of taking what they say are “toxic” treatments.
Through the media and people they’ve come in contact with personally, “Act UP/SF” has been successful in portraying political activism as loony cartoon caricature. A CIA disinformation campaign couldn’t do a better job of alienating or disheartening people.
Global catastrophes, such as the holocaust and AIDS, elicit different reactions from different people. Denial, guilt, misplaced anger, and sociopathic behavior are four reactions we see demonstrated by “Act UP/SF.” Check out www.healthgap.org, www.globaltreatmentaccess.org or Doctors Without Borders (www.msf.org) for truly credible responses to the global AIDS epidemic.
ACT UP/ EAST BAY