[ACT UP Paris and other] activist groups have now managed to derailseveral PREP [post-exposure prophylaxis] trials, arguably the mostimportant studies for those at high risk of acquiring HIV infectionaround the globe. Similarly, [they] have endangered the funding andtherefore the continuity of the International AIDS Conference. Andlately [they] have prevented clinical trials with [a] promising andhighly needed new class of…antiretrovirals.

“The methods ofthese specific activist groups are uninformed demagogy, intimidationand ‘AIDS exceptionalism,’ the last in the sense that they exploittheir HIV positive status to get away with behavior that would not beaccepted from others. Within the international AIDS community, suchform of activism is only practiced by a tiny minority, but it has takenus hostage. Those who will suffer the most from the misguided ethicalimperialism…do not live in Paris, but as usual in Nairobi,Johannesburg, Phnom Penh and Calcutta.

“There is no other areaof medicine where activism has been so strong and has accomplished somuch as in [AIDS]. Let’s be just a little brave and stand up to protectthat legacy.”

—Dr. Joep Lange, CoChair of the 2004International AIDS Conference, in the September Public Library ofScience (www.plosmedicine.org)

In Cambodia, at least onein five female sex workers has HIV. Critics, like Dr. Lange, now wonderwhether these women—long exploited by their families, employers andpublic officials—have also been exploited by ACT UP Paris. Bydisrupting the 2004 global AIDS confab, the activist group shut down agroundbreaking HIV prevention study in which many sex workers wereenrolled, 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.