Biz Buzz
POZ is absolutely right: The AIDS industry is all about money (The Biz of AIDS, April 2001). HIV has become big business, but as a PWA dependent on the same HAART that is killing me with side effects, I’m bowing out. I plan to trade toxic meds for vitamins and a healthy diet. It would be a shame to conquer HIV only to die from liver failure. “There’s gotta be a better way” indeed- but driven by profits, the AIDS industry won’t find it.

Michael Harrison
Via the Internet

Big Mac Attack
MAC Cosmetics would like to point out that monies from the sale of Viva Glam lipsticks are given back to the organizations in the city or region- not the zip code, as LeRoy Whitfield reported- where they are raised (“Mary MAC’d, April 2001). This way, an organization can receive funding even if there is no MAC store in that area., Our funding guidelines require organizations to submit a grant application to be considered for funding. Missouri’s BABAA did not apply for funding and there for did not receive any. They were not “bypassed” as Whitfield stated. Whitfield was given a copy of our funding guidelines, which he chose not to mention. Also, the names of the president of MAC, John Demsey and the vice president of global communications, Michelle Feeney, were misspelled.

Stanley Baumblatt
MAC Global Foundation and AIDS Fund, New York City

POZ Responds: We regret these errors, though LeRoy Whitfield denies having access to the guidelines.

MAC may be trying to use its corporate power to draw attention to AIDS through its Viva Glam ad campaign. But I agree with LeRoy Whitfield that the communities most impacted are being taken for a  ride. MAC may say that the AIDS organizations to which it directs the monies are serving poor people of color. But the issues is that we do no have a say in how those organizations are run. Many of our people are dying. The last thing we need is cosmetic changes.

Tokes Osubu
East New York-Brownsville
HIV CARE Network
Brooklyn, New York

LeRoy Whitfield’s frank and insightful presentation of the issues surrounding MAC’s ad campaign are long overdue. It’s not surprising that the campaign’s benefactors are agencies that provide services to- but are not the face of- the minority community. This is business as usual. If we are to curb  the rising tide of HIV we need partners who understand the value of our ability to provide services to our own communities.

Brandon Armani
Minority Outreach Intervention Project

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) would like to clarify several points in the Viramune [nevirapine] warning (Two Strikes, April 2001).

First, BI recently revised the package insert (PI)- though not, as POZ stated, due to an increase in reports of adverse events to the FDA. In fact, rates of such events including hepatitis have not increased. Labeling was updated on predictive risk factors and wished to strengthen warnings to physicians and patients.

Second, based on recent clinical-trial data, co-infection with hepatitis B or C is associated with a greater risk of liver damage regardless of whether patients were taking Viramune or in the control arm. All patients were also on additional antiretroviral therapy.

Third, Viramune is not FDA approved for post-exposure prophylaxis, nor does BI advocate the drug for this use.

Fourth, your warning may mislead because its list of hepatitis symptoms is incomplete. “Fatigue, appetite loss and nausea” do not necessarily indicate hepatitis. Because diagnosis is difficult. BI recommends not only that patients experiencing these symptoms notify their physician immediately, but that Viramune be discontinued for good in patients with hepatitis.

BI takes all adverse events seriously and is committed to ensuring that people taking Viramune do so safely.

Michael Imperiale, MD
Ridgefield, Connecticut

Miss Lonelyhearts
Brad Peebles’ Publisher’s Letter always raises an issue of importance. “Happy Valentine’s Day” (February/March 2001) helped me reflect on my dismay at my lack of a meaningful relationship. I have learned to settle for anonymous, noncommittal encounters- an alternative to heartache. But, like Peebels, I reserve a place in my heart for a relationship in which I can lose my heart and soul and know that they are safe forever.

Via the internet

A Correction
Due to the fact-checking errors, POZ erroneously stated that ACT UP/ San Francisco was convicted of criminal assault for spraying the city’s health director with Silly String (Milestones, February/ March 2001). In fact, members of the group were convicted on lesser counts of distributing the peace and violating a court order; those verdicts are being appealed. In the same piece, we correctly reported that “the jury deadlocked, or acquitted ACT UP/ SF members, on more serious charges, including battery.” There was no intent to malign or defame ACT UP/San Francisco, and we regret the error.

POZ also recently received letters from ACT UP/ SF’s David Pasquarelli and Todd Swindell, disputing account by Project Inform (PI) founder Martin Delaney of an ACT UP/SF demo at a community treatment forum (“Arch Enemies” August 2000). Opinion columns are, by definition, subjective, and we regret that the writer’s opinion has been perceived by ACT UP/ SF as seeking to malign its members.

The group objects to these specific phrases: “Delaney, a veteran of their violence”; “Shrieking like howler monkeys, they marched Brown-shirt-style up to the speaker’s table and began throwing fist-fuls of pills in our faces”; They routinely ambush people on the street (often women from our staff), shoving, shouting, and spitting. Such big, brave, boys!”; “When PIs Judy Leahy tried to intervene, she was knocked to the ground by David Pasquarelli, the group’s self-appointed intellectual kingpin”; and “one of their war cries was ‘Die you faggots!” The group states it does not initiate violence, ambush PI employees, shove women or yell antigay epithets. In fact, ACT UP/ SF’s Pasquarelli and Swindell were unanimously acquitted by a jury of shoving Leahy and throwing pills.