Policy & Politics
NIH, CDC Scientists "Outraged" by HHS Decision to Allow Only 50 People to Attend International AIDS Conference
March 30, 2004
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's decision to save money by cutting the number of government scientists allowed to travel to the XV International AIDS Conference scheduled for July in Bangkok, Thailand, has "sparked outrage" at NIH and CDC, Science reports (Cohen, Science, 3/26). HHS two weeks ago announced that it would spend $500,000 to send 50 people to the conference, down from the $3.6 million spent to send 236 people to the 2002 conference in Barcelona, Spain, according to Science. HHS spokesperson Bill Pierce said that spending for the Barcelona conference was "excessive" and that the 50-person cap allows 10 more people to go to the conference than HHS policy usually allows for international delegations. Staff already stationed in Southeast Asia are exempt from the cap, and individuals who are giving keynote speeches or presenting papers have priority, Pierce said. He added that researchers who are not able to attend the conference can "share their findings" through other outlets, such as scientific journals, Science reports. According to "well-placed" Science sources, HHS official Bill Steiger allegedly told agency AIDS officials that the cut was due in part to the fact that Thompson was heckled at the 2002 Barcelona conference. However, Pierce rejected that assertion, saying it is "completely incorrect," according to Science (Kaiser, Science, 3/19).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.