June 19, 2003
Noticeably absent during the recent heated battle over AIDS funding at San Francisco's City Hall is Mayor Willie Brown's AIDS czar Mike Shriver. The head of the Mayor's Office on AIDS and HIV Policy has been out on disability for over a year and a half.
Fighting both HIV and hepatitis C, Shriver went on leave in September 2001 -- less than a year after his appointment. Since that time, the Mayor's Office on AIDS has been dormant, and AIDS agencies have been without a key representative within Brown's administration. The health department's AIDS office has since taken over the duties of the office.
With the University of California-San Francisco contract for the $50,000-a-year position up on June 30, it is uncertain whether it will be renewed. In addition, with Brown leaving office next January, the office's future will be determined by the next mayor. Shriver's extended leave has prompted questions about the validity and need of having such an office at City Hall. AIDS activist Michael Petrelis has called for an investigation of the office and for the mayor to justify his funding the position.
Meanwhile, Shriver said he has every intention of returning to his position. However, due to his continuing health problems, he could not say when he will come back to work. "I am out on disability and that has to be respected," said Shriver, who has also taken a leave as co-director of the AIDS Policy Research Center at UCSF. "I don't owe anything other than that. I will be back to work when my doctor gives me the okay," Shriver maintained.