Friends and collegues,

The following story in the New York Post points out the astonishing experimentation with public safety and AIDS. Now there is an outcry (as there should be) in the gay community about why all positive HIV tests were not followed up with notification.

As pointed out by Ron Hattis, MD, it takes only a small mental leap to realize that not notifying a partner to someone who is HIV-infected is also a grave injustice. This partner has a chance of not yet being infected, getting earlier treatment if already infected, and behaving in such ways as to prevent further transmission (and death).

When will public health authorities recognize that this is about a deadly virus? The notification of those with possible HIV exposure is of paramount importance. These health officials are supposed to be the watchdogs of public safety. Once they were called "viral hunters." Today they play political poker "asking (even requiring) doctors like myself to hide this virus from public health authorities"

It gets worse-----California has plans to embark on its own Tuskeegee experiment, forbidding physicians from reporting HIV by name to public health authorities (punishable by jail time, fines, and civil litigation). What is worse, these public health experimenters publicly acknowledge what they are doing is "wrong".

It also gets shameful----many of the people executing this experimentation with public safety are Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, Gay, Black. Don't let them tell us how many friends they have lost. All of us have lost family, friends, neighbors, patients. Look at their actions! And hold them accountable!

I guess I am not making many friends these days at the California Office of AIDS.

Cary Savitch MD President, Beyond AIDS now please read story below

The New York Post September 6, 2000

Activists: City didn't tell gays of HIV+ tests ----- By Kate Perrotta

The city performed its own "Tuskegee experiments" on thousands of gay men by secretly testing them for HIV -- and then failing to tell them they had the virus, AIDS activists charged yesterday.

In a study by the city Department of Health from 1990 to 1998, thousands of men entered two health clinics -- one in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the other in Chelsea -- to be tested for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis.

What they didn't know was the city also was using their unused blood to test for HIV.

While the city said 59 percent of those who tested positive for the deadly virus already knew or learned then they had HIV, there is no tracking record of the other 41 percent.

"It's quite terrifying, in my opinion," said activist Michael Petrelis outside the downtown office of the study's author, Dr. Lucia Torian.

"It's legal, but so was the Tuskegee experiment. I don't think it's ethically right, though. Morally, it's wrong."

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, begun by the U.S. government in the 1930s, examined infected black sharecroppers but let the men go untreated for decades -- even after penicillin became available in the 1940s.

Petrelis argued that if the city had gotten the consent of the men to be tested for HIV and informed them of the results, those who are infected could be treated with new drugs and practicing safe sex now.

The Health Department said all of the clinics' clients are encouraged to get HIV testing and that free counseling is available to them.

The department added that the testing met "rigorous scientific, ethical scrutiny, locally and nationally."

The City of New York Department of Health

Office of Public Affairs 125 Worth Street, Room 329 New York, NY 10013 (212) 788-5290 Fax: (212) 788-4749

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, September 5, 2000

CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/John Gadd - (212) 788-5290


Since 1988, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York City has been part of a multi-City national survey to estimate the nature and extent of HIV in the United States. These CDC approved protocols have served as important public health tools to better understand the HIV epidemic in different populations in New York City and throughout the country. Surveys are performed for general public health purposes to estimate the number of people who are infected so that adequate services can be planned for them. These surveys are not a substitute for personal HIV testing.

Samples used for the surveys among NYCDOH sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic attendees come from left over STD test specimens that would routinely be discarded. No patient identifying information is retained. All STD clinic attendees are encouraged to get HIV testing and counseling which is available at no cost from City health Department clinics located in each borough.

The City's survey efforts have met rigorous scientific and ethical scrutiny, locally and nationally. These efforts are widely respected for the invaluable information they have provided, and have been critical to the development of HIV-related initiatives and programs. They complement other public health surveillance activities such as AIDS surveillance, and help target programs and services to those with HIV/AIDS in New York City.

Confidential or anonymous HIV testing is available free of charge to anyone who comes to a sexually transmitted disease clinic or any other NYC Department of Health facility. DOH encourages all New Yorkers to be aware of their HIV status and risk.

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