[ACT UP Paris and other] activist groups have now managed to derail
several PREP [post-exposure prophylaxis] trials, arguably the most
important studies for those at high risk of acquiring HIV infection
around the globe. Similarly, [they] have endangered the funding and
therefore the continuity of the International AIDS Conference. And
lately [they] have prevented clinical trials with [a] promising and
highly needed new class of…antiretrovirals.
“The methods of
these specific activist groups are uninformed demagogy, intimidation
and ‘AIDS exceptionalism,’ the last in the sense that they exploit
their HIV positive status to get away with behavior that would not be
accepted from others. Within the international AIDS community, such
form of activism is only practiced by a tiny minority, but it has taken
us hostage. Those who will suffer the most from the misguided ethical
imperialism…do not live in Paris, but as usual in Nairobi,
Johannesburg, Phnom Penh and Calcutta.
“There is no other area
of medicine where activism has been so strong and has accomplished so
much as in [AIDS]. Let’s be just a little brave and stand up to protect
—Dr. Joep Lange, CoChair of the 2004
International AIDS Conference, in the September Public Library of
In Cambodia, at least one
in five female sex workers has HIV. Critics, like Dr. Lange, now wonder
whether these women—long exploited by their families, employers and
public officials—have also been exploited by ACT UP Paris. By
disrupting the 2004 global AIDS confab, the activist group shut down a
groundbreaking HIV prevention study in which many sex workers were
enrolled, charging that it was unethical.
For more on this controversy, read POZ’s exclusive interview with Dr. Lange in News & Views at www.poz.com.