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National News

Feds Probe San Francisco AIDS Group

August 7, 2002

San Francisco's Stop AIDS Project (SAP) is again under scrutiny, this time by the CDC, for its sexually explicit HIV-prevention programs. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services investigated the group's controversial workshops, including "Booty Call" and "Great Sex." Now the CDC's new director, Julie Gerberding, has placed the program at the top of her AIDS agenda.

Gerberding plans to send a team to San Francisco next week to check whether the federally funded group's curricula is "scientifically sound," according to a letter sent to SAP. Gerberding, a former University of California-San Francisco medicine and epidemiology professor, could not be reached for comment.

The move could threaten not only the group's federal funding but also HIV prevention programs across the country.

The first audit, initiated after AIDS activist Michael Petrelis lodged a complaint against SAP, concluded that some programs were obscene and encouraged sexual activity. Local public health officials say the investigations have been launched under pressure from a coalition of Capitol Hill conservatives led by Rep. Mark Souder (I-Ind.)

SAP spokesperson Shana Krochma said surveys show its classes are effective. Steven Tierney, director of HIV prevention for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said he welcomes Gerberding's expertise on SAP's effectiveness. However, he said the repeated investigations are simply a new form of harassment from "a local crank [Petrelis] through his contacts in Congress."

Activists say the move represents the Bush administration's two-handed push to the right of national agencies. Bush recently moved AIDS advisor Scott Evertz from the White House to HHS to work on the international epidemic. On a January visit to San Francisco, Evertz said he supported SAP's work.

Back to other CDC news for August 7, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
San Francisco Examiner
08.06.02; Adrienne Sanders

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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