- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

A San Francisco official has accused Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of presiding over a political "witch hunt" for conducting an inquiry into the effectiveness of AIDS-prevention programs in that city.

"I am seethingly angry that this witch hunt is being presided over by a CDC director who is a doctor on leave from [the University of California at San Francisco]," Luke Adams, a policy analyst in the Mayor's Office of AIDS & HIV Policy, wrote in an Internet message to a homosexual group. "She is a scientist who KNOWS BETTER, and is obviously playing political games on behalf of the Bush administration and certain members of Congress. I am appalled that they are willing to risk lives to attempt to drum up political capital."

The accusation came two days after a team from the CDC visited the San Francisco Stop AIDS Project to determine whether the taxpayer-funded program's workshops with names such as "Booty Call" and "Great Sex" comply with federal guidelines and are effective in reducing rates of HIV infection.

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Last year, Health and Human Services Inspector General Janet Rehnquist issued a report describing materials for some Stop AIDS workshops as "obscene" and found that the workshops were promoting sexual activity in violation of federal guidelines.

"I am furious that the CDC is even considering scrutinizing the programs," Mr. Adams wrote in a message to the Gay Men's Health Summit discussion group. "I was enraged when the benighted Ms. Rehnquist overruled her own committee's determination and the local assessment by unilaterally declaring that there were violations of any standards."

Mr. Adams wrote that the Bush administration and Dr. Gerberding "disgust me; their behavior is reprehensible and despicable. The fact that grossly unscientific and hideously unprofessional behavior such as [Dr. Gerberding's and Ms. Rehnquist's] does not merit summary dismissal only serves to show how unethically politicized these offices have become."

Dr. Gerberding could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Adams said that he sent the message in the belief it was private and that his opinions did not represent the views of the mayor's office. However, he said he stood by his statements.

The message from Mr. Adams was in response to a survey posted by Lars Holland of the Stop AIDS Project, which asked:

•"Please tell us how our [Stop AIDS] programs have helped you practice safer sex?"

•"Now imagine that the CDC has defunded prevention programs in San Francisco. How do you think that would affect you and your friends? What would be lost? What might be the consequences?"

Shana Krochmal, communications director for Stop AIDS, said the survey was conducted in connection with Monday's visit from the CDC team.

"The responses that were sent in prior to the CDC's visit were collected and provided to the team on Monday," Ms. Krochmal said. "Among the vast amount of materials we provided to the CDC on Monday we included testimonials from the program participants."

Stop AIDS has already distributed more than 4 million condoms this year. But in June, San Francisco health officials reported that the city had more than 1,080 new AIDS cases in 2001 double the rate reported in 1998 while syphilis cases had increased and more men were engaging in unprotected sex.

"The indicators from the city's own health department increases in HIV, syphilis, hepatitis and high-risk behaviors demonstrate clearly what these solicited [Stop AIDS survey] responses are intended to mask, which is that the HIV-prevention approach in San Francisco is a failure," said Roland Foster, spokesman for the House Government Reform criminal justice, drug policy and human resources subcommittee.

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