Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dear Friends:

Veteran respected muckraker Doug Ireland has uncovered major problems with the leadership at AIDS Action, a DC-based lobbying organization for AIDS service organizations, as you can read below.

After reading Ireland's column from his blog,, about the latest stupidity from AIDS Action, I did some research on the group's tax return and its leader, Marsha A. Martin.

The latest IRS 990 tax return for AIDS Action shows the group had revenue of $565,285 in FY 2002 and that Ms. Martin, the executive director, earned $116,667. (

I'd be most interested to learn what Martin is earning this year for her services to AIDS Action.

As a donor to candidates and PACs, she's not a big giver, according to records with the PoliticalMoneyLine web site,

Only a single donation turned up for her, back when she worked for the federal government, to Al Gore's 2000 run for the White House:

Martin, Marsha A. Ms.
7/21/1999 $250.00
Washington, DC 20003
US Dept. Hlth. & Human Serv. -[Contribution]

I think Martin has a lot of explaining to do to the AIDS community and people with AIDS about her sucking up to the Bush Administration.

Michael Petrelis

For the latest from DIRELAND--on how the executive director of AIDS
Action, D.C.'s largest and wealthiest AIDS lobby, is sponsoring and
helping to organize a banquet celebrating the re-election of George Bush
and a strengthened Republican Congress, with the banquet's proceeds
going to a front group for drug company multinationals--click on

December 24, 2004

By Doug Ireland

It's mind-boggling: Marsha Martin, the executive director of AIDS
Action--the AIDS community's largest, most visible, and wealthiest
Washington lobby, with a multi-million dollar budget--has jumped into
with the Bush-Rove Republicans with both feet. In a perfectly
scandalous act
of betrayal of the AIDS community, Martin is one of a small committee
sponsoring a pricey celebration of Bush's November victory, and that of
Republicans in Congress. And guess who gets the money from this orgy of
felicitations to the GOP? A front group for Big Pharma that crusades
giving cheap, generic AIDS-fighting meds to the world's poorest victims
the AIDS pandemic.

The invitation, on which Martin's name prominently appears as part of a
small "host committee", is to an expensive, upcoming January 20 event at
Washington's J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks
the White House. The event is billed as a "Salute a Second Term:
Freedom, Honoring Service--an Inaugural Dinner Invitation." And the
invitation to this deluxe, black-tie banquet ($125 a plate, with
sponsorships" going for $5000) goes on to say, "You are cordially
to join in celebrating the Presidential Inauguration and Republican
electoral success."

This event, which as a member of the "host committee" Martin is helping
organize, is for the benefit of something called the Aids Responsibility
Project (ARP). And just what, you may ask, is the ARP? As the Center for
Media and Democracy has carefully documented, ARP is pharmaceutical
front group--it even boasts of its "partnership" with the Big Pharma
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), as
well as
with Pfizer and other drug multinationals. ARP's primary function has
to crusade against the manufacture and use of effective but generic
AIDS-fighting drugs produced by Third World companies like India's Cipla
(whose tripartite AIDS-fighting "cocktail" costs 20 times less than the
U.S.-manufactured version). ARP wants thus to insure that only the
infinitely more expensive AIDS meds manufactured by Big Pharma
companies are
used to prolong the lives of the HIV-infected.

As a result, Bush administration policies allow U.S. monies for Bush's
Global AIDS Initiative to be used only for buying Big Pharma drugs--a
made even easier when Bush appointed to head his AIDS initiative someone
with no experience with AIDS and none with diseases in developing
Randall L. Tobias, the former chairman of the pharmaceutical giant Eli
& Co. Tobias was chosen as Big Pharma's enforcer, to ensure that
getting U.S. help can't themselves buy generic AIDS drugs at the lowest
possible prices — meaning the Bush initiative's money won’t go nearly
as far
as it should.

ARP's founder and executive director, Abner Mason, is a Republican hack
had no previous AIDS experience when George Bush named him to the
President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, which Bush has stacked with
opponents of science-based sex education and anti-condom crusaders.
had previously worked for two Republican Massachusetts Governors -- Paul
Cellucci and Jane Swift -- as chief policy adviser, and served them as
Massachusetts Undersecretary of Transportation, and as Deputy General
Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.)

During the the 15th International AIDS Conference, held in Bangkok in
2004, Mason's ARP took out a full-page ad in the Bangkok Post which
generic AIDS drugs and lied about their effectiveness. This caused Asia
Russell, of the AIDS-fighting group Health GAP Coalition, to say, "It is
hard to gauge whether the global AIDS treatment community is more
shocked to
learn that a drug industry stooge is at the highest advisory level of
policy in the United States, or to learn the lengths to which he and his
paymasters would go to falsely undermine confidence in proven and
treatment options."

AIDS Action bills itself as the "national voice" for the some 3200 AIDS
service organizations (ASOs) around the country which make up its
membership. Thus, it is in their name that Martin, as AIDS Action's
executive director, is calling for a "celebration" of an administration
has promulgated regulations demanding that any ASO getting federal money
teach that condoms don't work to prevent AIDS; perverted the use of
tax-payer dollars intended to help fight AIDS by funneling them into
political patronage for the Christian Right disguised as "faith-based
initiatives"; gutted the Centers for Disease Control's AIDS work by
censoring and banishing any educational material that recognizes sexual
practices the Bushies don't like (homosexuality foremost among them);
at the same time, Martin wishes us to hail a Republican Congress that
virtually flat-lined domestic AIDS spending. Moreover, Martin wants us
shout for joy at the GOP's "electoral success" which just elevated to
Senate a phalanx of anti-condom religious primitives-- like Coburn of
Oklahoma (the AIDS community's number one enemy when he was in the
DeMint of South Carolina, Burr of North Carolina, Vitter of Louisiana,
Martinez of Florida.

When Martin was named AIDS Action's executive director in February
2002, she
told the Washington Blade that "We are going to be on AIDS what [the
Rights Campaign] is on gay rights issues." But Martin exceeded even the
Republican-endorsing HRC's collaborationist policies by her constant
effusive praise for Bush's sorry record on AIDS. When Bush made an
election-year campaign speech on AIDS in Philadelphia this past
speech whose phony hypocrisy I exposed for The Nation--Martin gushed to
Today that Bush had given "unprecedented leadership" on AIDS. And she
praised Bush's Global AIDS Initiative as "absolutely exceptional" to
despite its tilt to the religious right's condom opponents. That
ass-kissing doesn't strike most people in the AIDS community as
to the frightening reality they know all too well.

But Martin has now allied herself firmly with a Republican president
and a
Republican Congress who have been hurting the very community she claims
serve, and who have done everything possible to destroy science-based,
life-saving HIV prevention methods. Moreover, she has done so as a
shill for
a banquet to benefit a lobbying group that wants to deny poor people
AIDS around the world cheap meds that can keep them alive.

Sean Strub, the founder of the award-winning magazine POZ (which serves
HIV-positive community) and one of the AIDS community's most respected
activists, has just sent a letter to AIDS leaders in which he says of
Martin's latest and most stomach-turning sellout, "Why don't we just
dissolve AIDS Action, spend the money on cyanide pills, and speed the
thing up? Martin is responsible for protecting the interests of people
AIDS--and yet she celebrates those who have supported Bush's campaign to
control and criminalize us, to deny us treatment and care, to guarantee
further spread of the disease by teaching young people that condoms
work. She might as well go to work for HRC for all the good she's doing
We cannot let this stand."

So, Strub tells AIDS leaders in his e-mailed letter, "we must demand
AIDS Action board members, and the executive directors of the agencies
fund AIDS Action, fire Marsha Martin and find an executive director
celebratory priorities are more appropriate to a constituency
struggling to
survive, to keep from becoming totally invisible, totally ignored,

Strub is, of course, right-- the kapo Martin should be fired. And there
should a firestorm of outrage at her actions from the AIDS community to
insure her eviction.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

December 22, 2004
c/o Dr Damian C. Crowther
The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Hills Road
Cambridge, UK, CB2 2XY

Dear Dr. Crowther:

I see your web site has again changed its listing for the nonexistent "gay bowel syndrome."

The site now refers to this "syndrome" as "obsolete, and potentially offensive."
>>This is an obsolete, and potentially offensive term, used to refer to a collection of sexually-transmitted enteric infections in HIV infected homosexuals (1, 2).

>>The infective organisms included in this "syndrome" included Shigella, Giardia, Campylobacter-like organisms, Entamoeba, Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. (Source:

Since you're now acknowledging it's obsolete, why not simply remove all references to "gay bowel syndrome" from the GP Notebook?


Michael Petrelis

San Francisco, CA, USA

Ph: 1-415-621-6267

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

December 20, 2004
c/o Dr Damian C. Crowther
The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Hills Road
Cambridge, UK, CB2 2XY

Dear Dr. Crowther:
I see that you've posted the following note on your web site about "gay bowel syndrome:"

>>This was a term that was previously used to refer to a collection of sexually transmitted enteric infections in HIV infected homosexuals (1)

>>The infective organisms included in this "syndrome": Shigella, Giardia, Campylobacter-like organisms, Entamoeba, Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.

>>Note however that although that "...Through analysis of biomedical discourse and popular media, it is apparent that Gay Bowel Syndrome is an essentialized category of difference that is neither gay-specific, confined to the bowel, nor a syndrome.." (2). Thus its inclusion as a term in GPnotebook is really as a means of pointing out that the syndrome is not a valid clinical or diagnostic entity. (Source:

While the note is a step in the right direction, I still question why the GP Notebook includes any reference to what you yourselves acknowledge is not specific to gay men, confined to the bowel and not a syndrome.

Since this alleged syndrome is not a valid medical condition, why mention it at all?

Again, I ask you to remove "gay bowel syndrome" from the GP Notebook.


Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA, USA
Ph: 415-621-6267

Saturday, December 18, 2004

December 18, 2004
c/o Dr Damian C. Crowther
The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Hills Road
Cambridge, UK, CB2 2XY

Dear Dr. Crowther:

Your advice to general practioners in the United Kingdom regarding the fictious "gay bowel syndrome" must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.

To the point, this supposed medical syndrome was debunked decades ago and unfortunately still shows up in otherwise respectable medical journals, including your GP Notebook.

I ask that you forthwith remove the listing in the GP Notebook for "gay bowel syndrome." Frankly, anything less smacks of homophobic quackery.

An apology to the gay male community would also be most welcomed and appreciated.

Below are the link to the offensive GP Notebook listing, the text of the listing, and a story from 2001 about a Canadian medical society correcting its textbook regarding "gay bowel syndrome."

I look forward to prompt action on your part to remove "gay bowel syndrome" from your GP Notebook and issue an apology over its inclusion in your textbook.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Ph: 1-415-621-6267


‘Gay Bowel Syndrome’ Struck from Textbook
by Jon Garbo

Monday, April 16th 2001

A gay activist scored a victory against the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG), which last month deleted any reference to "gay bowel syndrome" from its medical textbook, the Southern Voice reported on April 12. The authors used the syndrome to describe a parasitic infection of the intestines that is prevalent among gay men who engage in anal-oral contact (rimming). However, the infection is by no means exclusive to gay men.

It is very much a defamation to say ‘gay bowel syndrome,’ when what they’re really talking about is parasites," said activist Michael Petrelis, who discovered the textbook entry. "It just seems so wacky and outrageous that in 2001 these educated medical people are still believing that ‘gay bowel syndrome’ exists."

"Gay bowel syndrome" is an outdated term from the 1980’s that appeared accidentally in the textbook, First Principles of Gastroenterology: The Basis of Disease and An Approach to Management,according to a CAG official. "It slipped into this [edition] purely by accident," said Dr. Eldon Shaffer, head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary and the textbook’s co-author. "I didn’t even know it was still in there; I had to find it… It’s gone."

While gay men may be more at risk than heterosexual men for the parasites, it’s still harmful to label the condition as a gay one, agreed Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ communications manager, Marty Algaze. "Sickle cell anemia is primarily seen in African Americans, but would you call it African American anemia? People would never accept that," he said.



gay bowel syndrome

This term refers to a collection of sexually transmitted enteric infections in HIV infected homosexuals.

The infective organisms include: Shigella, Giardia, Campylobacter-like organisms, Entamoeba, Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.

(The information provided herein should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Copyright 2003 Oxbridge Solutions Ltd®. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions Ltd® is an independent company owned by the authors which does not receive income from any other organisation or individual.)

Monday, December 13, 2004

The New York Times
Dec. 13, 2004


A front-page article on July 1, 2000, about an increase in H.I.V. infections among gay men in San Francisco misstated the given name of the of the city's public health director. He is Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, not Michael. (A reader noted the error recently in an e-mail message.)


Subj: Re: Error in July 1, 2000, NYT story
Date: 12/3/2004 8:07:38 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: David Corcoran
To: (by way of NYT News )

holy guacamole. you'd think there'd be a statute of limitations. however,
if we got it wrong we're obliged to correct it, even at this ridiculously
late date. let me know. thanx dc


Subj: Fwd: Re: Error in July 1, 2000, NYT story
Date: 12/3/2004 8:09:41 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: David Corcoran

Dear Mr. Petrelis:

I inadvertently sent you the e-mail I intended to send our reporter. My
apologies. As I said to him, if we got this wrong we'll correct it. May I
ask how you picked up an error in a four-year-old article?


David Corcoran

>At 12:34 AM 12/1/2004, you wrote:
>>Corrections Editor
>>The New York Times
>>New York, NY
>>Dear Editor:
>>In your July 1, 2000, article about HIV rates in San Francisco by
>>Lawrence K. Altman, the first name of the health chief here is reported
>>The story, which is at
>>mistakenly reported the following:
>>"Dr. Michael H. Katz, the director of the San Francisco Department of
>>Public Health, said his was the first city to make such a link directly."
>>Dr. Katz's first name is Mitchell.
>>You can verify this fact by calling the public affairs office of the San
>>Francisco Department of Public Health at 415-554-2507.
>>I look forward to reading a correction in the next few days about Dr.
>>Katz's correct name in the New York Times.
>>Michael Petrelis
>>San Francisco, CA
>>Ph: 415-621-6267
>David Corcoran
>Assistant Science Editor
>New York Times
>(212) 556-1826


Mr. Corcoran:

Ever since that article appeared on July 1, 2000, full of factual and statistical errors, in my opinion, related to HIV infections in San Francisco, I've tried to persuade the New York Times to run corrections about the story.

Alas, despite mounting evidence over the years that the San Francisco Department of Public Health manipulated HIV numbers, and predictions of skyrocketing transmissions, simply not borne out in the intervening years in the department's HIV data, no correction about mistruths in the Times piece made it into print.

For years, whenever new data emerged from our health department proving the Times' claims wrong, I sent the studies and surveillance reports to Lawrence K. Altman and his superiors, and never heard back from the paper.

In early November, the latest annual HIV epidemiology report for San Francisco was posted to the web, detailing a flat infection rate since 1999. Again, I sent off a letter about the new report, along with a link to it, to the Times and didn't get a reply.

As December 1, World AIDS Day, grew closer I decided it was time to ask the paper to correct its mistake about our health director's first name in the 2000 article. It's Mitchell, not Michael.

And it appears from your emails, that a correction may soon appear in the Times.

Now, if you'll only assign a reporter to revisit the story and its message of alarm and doom, that would be a welcome development in my campaign to have the Times finally report this fact: HIV in San Francisco is stable and has been for years.

Here are links to the latest HIV data for San Francisco:,

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Ph: 415-621-6267

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

December 1, 2004

Marin Independent Journal
Marin, CA

Dear Editor:

I applaud your Dec. 1 story about an AIDS patient battling to stay healthy and alive in Marin and current HIV and AIDS statistics.

Of particular interest to me were the following statements from a San Francisco health official, Randy Allgaier.

He said, "The number of people being diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in San Francisco and Marin has decreased over recent years . . . [b]ut increases in sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, cast an ominous shadow over the future . . . [t]hat is because such increases usually coincide with increases in HIV infection."

The 2003 HIV epidemiology report from San Francisco not only clearly backs up Allgaier on the decreases, it spells out a stable rate: "New data suggest HIV incidence has leveled off in the past few years. Application of the Serological Testing Algorithm for Recent HIV Seroconversion (STARHS) to specimens collected at the anonymous and the STD clinic testing sites finds that recent infection peaked in 1999. From 1999 to 2003, HIV incidence has stabilized." (Source: DPH HIV report, Page 11.)

However, Allgaier's contention that rising syphilis rates equals surging HIV infections is not borne out by a large-scale study on this supposed connection between the infections.

A study published in August 2004 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that in two epicenters of the AIDS crisis in the United States, San Francisco and Los Angeles, there was no increase in HIV incidence at several testing sites, over a four-year period.

"Despite the high HIV incidence in men with P&S [primary and secondary] syphilis, HIV incidence rates among MSM [men who have sex with men] tested at large public sites in San Francisco and Los Angeles did not increase during 1999-2002." (Source: JAMA HIV Syphilis Study.)

Let's hope the stable HIV transmission rate in San Francisco and Marin remains steady and soon decreases, while doing everything to promote safer sex practices to bring about declines.

Michael Petrelis
2215-R Market Street, #413
San Francisco, CA 94114
Ph: 415-621-6267

Marin Independent Journal

Dec. 1, 2004

The fight goes on for survivors

Improved drugs help San Rafael woman outlive prognosis

By Richard Halstead, IJ reporter

Three times a day, Julie Dowling swallows about a dozen pills that keep her alive.
The San Rafael resident is one of 603 Marin residents living with AIDS or an HIV diagnosis. Many of them will march in a candlelight vigil through San Rafael's Canal Area tonight to commemorate World AIDS Day.

They're the lucky ones - of the 1,018 Marin residents who have contracted AIDS over the years, 649 are dead, county health officials say.

Improved medicines have allowed Dowling and thousands like her to cheat death so far. Dowling worries that the general public may assume the war has been won and forget how tenuous the lifeline is for AIDS survivors. Federal and state funding for AIDS programs in Marin decreased this year.

Dowling, 41, subsists on government disability payments. She doesn't feel well enough to work. She has learned to live with the constant pain in her feet, caused by her medicine, the protease inhibitors.

"It's better than the alternative," Dowling said.

She stopped taking the drugs recently to give her body a rest. She lost weight immediately. She often has flu-like symptoms, feeling nauseous and tired. Due to a condition brought on by AIDS she will never bear children.

Nonetheless, Dowling smiles as she tells her story. She wants people to know that AIDS is no one's fault. Anyone can catch it. That includes middle-class people, who aren't gay and don't use intravenous drugs - people like her.

Dowling was working as a public health nurse in San Diego when she was diagnosed in 1991. She was tested after she accidentally stuck herself with a needle while drawing blood from a patient. The test revealed that she already had advanced AIDS. She would later learn that a former lover slept with men without telling her. He has since died of AIDS.

"I was 28 years old," Dowling said. "Most people were starting their lives. I was ending mine."

Treatments for AIDS then were far less effective. Her doctors told Dowling she could expect to live another four years.

The first few years, Dowling was plagued by opportunistic viruses and bacteria to which her depressed immune system left her vulnerable. She contracted cytomegalovirus, which usually causes blindness and death. It disappeared without treatment.

"That's the grace of God," Dowling said. "I believe I was healed by a miracle."

The AIDS remained, however. She returned to San Rafael, where her parents live, in 1994. Soon after, she moved into a residential home in Santa Rosa, which she shared with five gay men.

"They told me I was Snow White and they were the dwarfs," Dowling said.

During the more than two years she lived there, dozens of men died and were replaced by other AIDS sufferers. Dowling nursed them the best she could, even though she herself was wasting away.

"It was like a dress rehearsal for me," Dowling said. "I'm watching these people die - when is it going to be my turn?"

Then in 1997, Dowling began taking protease inhibitors.

"Within days -it was like this cloud had lifted," Dowling said.

Dowling has been taking the protease inhibitors for eight years now. She lives with the knowledge that her body could develop a tolerance to the drug at any time.

"When is it going to stop working?" she asks herself. "How much longer do I have?"

For Dowling and others like her, nonprofits, such as the Marin AIDS Project and Community Action Marin, are nearly as essential as her medicine.

The Marin AIDS Project advises Dowling on how to apply for government assistance and serves as her advocate. It has also matched her with a volunteer, who gives her emotional support. Community Action Marin operates the HIV Pantry, which supplies food to people living with HIV and AIDS.

Government funding for such services in Marin declined this year. The amount of federal money was cut 15 percent to about $1 million, said Sparkie Spaeth, a manager in the county's Health and Human Services Department. State funding for AIDS prevention was reduced by about 33,000 to $131,645.

The legislation that authorized federal outlays to care for AIDS sufferers is up for renewal next year, said Randy Allgaier, a San Francisco official in charge of allocating Marin its share of the funds. There is concern that Congress will alter the Ryan White CARE Act so that federal money can no longer be spent on ancillary services such as case management, mental health and transportation, Allgaier said.

The number of people being diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in San Francisco and Marin has decreased over recent years, Allgaier said. But increases in sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, cast a ominous shadow over the future, Allgaier said. That is because such increases usually coincide with increases in HIV infection, he said.

And the while the numbers are encouraging in Marin, the disease continues to rage throughout the rest of the world.

According to the United Nations, there were 35.7 million adults and 2.1 million children living with HIV at the end of 2003. During 2003, 4.8 million new people became infected with the virus. By the end of October, AIDS had killed 78,000 Californians.

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at RHalstead@MarinIJ .com