Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dear Friends:

ViroLogic, the developer and manufacturer of the widely promoted HIV drug-resistant tests all over the news lately, put out its most up-to-date financial reports on Tuesday, the opening day of the HIV retrovirus conference in Boston, of which Dr. David Ho is the chairman this year.

The good news I gleaned from this release is that the company is doing well and making a handsome profit from its HIV assays, of which there are quite a few.

But the bad news is that ViroLogic suffered a $77.2 million net loss, due to merging with another biomedical company.

Good thing their HIV resistant assays are in the news, generating more tests performed by anxious people at risk of HIV, public health officials, private doctors and drug companies. Since ViroLogic's assays are so expensive to perform at the company's own lab, and the cost is being picked up by private and public insurers, more tests administered equals more revenue for the shareholders, including Dr. Ho and his brother Sidney.

Patient testing revenue is so vital to the company right now, it's prominently mentioned in the good news part of the CEO's quote below.

For some nasty chatter among speculators and investors about ViroLogic, its stock, the chairman and board, and the Ho brothers, visit Yahoo's financial area.

It's very informative and at:
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ViroLogic, Inc. today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2004.

Revenue for the fourth quarter of 2004 was $9.9 million compared to revenue of $9.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2003. For the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company reported revenue of $36.8 million, compared to $33.4 million in 2003.

Revenue from the Company's HIV patient testing products was $6.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2004 compared to $5.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2003. Revenue from the Company's HIV pharmaceutical testing products was $2.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2004 compared to $3.5 million for the same period in 2003. For the full year 2004, revenue from the Company's HIV patient testing products was $24.9 million, compared to $22.8 million in 2003. Revenue from the Company's HIV pharmaceutical testing products for the year was $9.9 million in 2004 compared to $9.1 million for the same period in 2003.

"We are pleased to report record total and patient testing revenue for the fourth quarter and full year of 2004," said William D. Young, CEO and Chairman of ViroLogic. "Our lead product for HIV resistance testing, PhenoSense(TM) GT, continues to be well accepted by physicians as a source of comprehensive information critical to guiding therapy of patients with HIV/AIDS. With the completion of our merger with ACLARA, we intend to develop a market position in oncology that mirrors our pioneering role and leadership position in HIV resistance testing."

For the fourth quarter of 2004, the net loss was $77.2 million, or $1.12 per common share, compared to a net loss of $405,000, or $0.01 per common share, for the same period in 2003. Included in the net loss for 2004 were substantial non-cash items related to the merger with ACLARA, including a charge for in-process research and development of $100.6 million and a favorable adjustment related to the revaluation of the Contingent Value Rights (CVRs) of $28.5 million as well as stock-based compensation expense of $3.4 million. On a proforma basis, adjusted for these non-cash items, the net loss was $1.7 million, or $0.02 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2004 compared to $405,000, or $0.01 per share, in the same period of 2003.

Dear Friends:

This is the second letter I received in the past week from the Times about my many concerns related to their coverage of the mutant strain of HIV in New York and some of the researchers involved.

While it's great the paper's editors and reporters read my letters to a science desk editor, I wish the Times would get the stories right and report all the facts and questions about this one case of drug-resistant HIV.

If the Times did that, they wouldn't get criticism from me and their would be no need for the paper's chief of communications to reply to me and defend their coverage and editorial decisions.

We'll just have to wait and see how they report future developments in this continuing story.

Subj: In Response to Your Letter
Date: 2/23/2005 4:17:07 PM Pacific Standard Time

Dear Mr. Petrelis:

To respond to your letter point by point:

1. We quoted Dr. Ho accurately; we did not say or imply that his statement
was correct. On deadline, we are simply not in a position to fact-check
every assertion made by every person we quote. Please bear in mind that
this article was largely devoted to criticism of Dr. Ho and Dr. Frieden,
and brought up many of the points that you yourself have raised.

2. As you acknowledge, we correctly reported Sidney Ho's relationship with
ViroLogic. Whether we might have done so in earlier articles depends on
relevance and on what we knew at the time.

3. Ditto.

4. We sometimes discuss stock performance and sometimes don't. This is
another matter of news judgment. You're entirely free to question our
judgment; we will take into account your criticisms and those of other
readers as we cover these issues in the future.

5. I don't understand your criticism on this point. The article reported
the very concern that you raise.

6. Your criticism of the ViroLogic news release would seem to be a matter
between you and the company.

As for your other letters:

On F.D.A. approval for the ViroLogic test: Is F.D.A. approval required for
the New York City Health Department to use a test? We report on many things
that are used in investigations or studies before they have F.D.A.
approval. The absence of approval in this case may be relevant in future
articles; if it is, we will report it.

On Dr. Ho's ownership of stock in ViroLogic: To repeat, we noted his
membership on the company's scientific advisory board. That seemed to our
editors to be sufficient evidence of his involvement with the company. As
you yourself note, the article in Gay City News makes no suggestion that he
has benefited greatly from owning stock.


Catherine Mathis
VP, Corporate Communications
The New York Times Company
212-556-1981 (office)
917-593-7425 (cell)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Feb. 22, 2005

David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

The Times reported on Feb. 21 that Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, who also has a consulting gig with ViroLogic, has "disclosed all of his ties to the company."

Putting aside for the moment the fact that Ho has allegedly fully disclosed links with ViroLogic, even though the ties are not posted on the Aaron Diamond web site, if he made the disclosures to the Times, an important question about his owning stock in the company must be raised related to your coverage.

Christos Petropoulos, director of research and development for ViroLogic, gave an interview last week with new York's Gay City News and confirmed what many Ho and ViroLogic critics had long suspected--Ho owns shares in the company. Why the Times sees this matter as unimportant is hard to fathom.

"Ho has received ViroLogic stock options during his time with the company, according to Petropoulos. With the company stock trading at around $2.50 a share, Ho will not reap great rewards from that relationship.

'I think it’s safe to say that none of our scientific advisory board members are getting rich,' Petropoulos said," according to the gay publication. (Source: )

One thing Petropoulos forgot to mention is that they may not be getting rich because the company's long-standing financial troubles plague their stock and profits.

If Ho indeed fully disclosed his ViroLogic ties to the Times, why have you not reported on his owning stock in the company?

On the other hand, if Ho did not make the Times aware of his stock ownership, it shows he was not fully disclosing his conflicts of interest.

In any event, I think the Times in future stories about the drug-resistant mutant HIV strain in New York that mention Ho and ViroLogic, the paper will inform readers that Ho owns shares in the company.


Michael Petrelis
Feb. 22, 2005

David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

Since Feb. 12 the Times' many articles about a suspected case of a drug-resistant mutant strain of HIV in New York have reported on tests used to test the specimens of the patient with this strain. These tests are manufactured, sold and promoted by the ViroLogic company.

In all of the reporting on this case by the Times, the paper has failed to once inform readers that the drug-resistant tests have not received the blessing of federal Food and Drug Administration.

This fact can be verified by reading the four-page product guide for ViroLogic's PhenoSense GT assay, which states the following:

"This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by ViroLogics, Inc. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration." (Source: , page 4)

The reasons for this lack of approval are contained in ViroLogic's 2002 eighty-seven-page annual report to shareholders.

It said:

"The FDA may impose medical device regulatory requirements on our tests, including possible premarket approve requirements, which could be expensive and time-consuming and could prevent us from marketing these tests.

"In the past, the FDA has not required that genotypic or phenotypic testing conducted at a clinical laboratory be subject to premarketing clearance or approval, although the FDA has stated that it believes its jurisdiction extends to tests generated in a clinical laboratory.

"We received a letter from the FDA in September 2001 that asserted such jurisdiction over in-house tests like ours, but which also stated the FDA is not currently requiring premarket approval for HIV monitoring tests such as ours provided that the promotional claims for such tests are limited to its analytical capabilities and do not mention the benefit of making treatment decisions on the basis of the test results.

"The FDA letter also asserted that our GeneSeq test had been misbranded due to the use of purchased analyte specific reagents (ASRs), if test reports do not include a statement disclosing that the test has not been cleared or approved by the FDA. We now utilize in-house prepared ASRs in our products. The FDA has indicated in discussions that the focus of the letter was our genotypic tests and not our phenotypic tests, but there is no certainty its focus will remain narrow.

"We have had several discussions with the FDA related to its position set forth in the letter. We do not at this point believe the FDA will require us to take steps that materially affect our business or financial performance, but we cannot guarantee this will remain the case.

"We cannot be sure the FDA will accept the steps we take, or that the FDA will not require us to alter our promotional claims or undertake the expensive and time consuming process of seeking premarket approval with clinical data demonstrating the sensitivity and specificity of our tests.

"If premarket approval is required, we cannot be sure that we will be able to obtain it in a timely fashion or at all; and in such an event the FDA would have authority to require us to cease marketing tests until such approval is granted.

"In general, we cannot predict the extent of future FDA regulations of our business. We might be subject in the future to greater regulation, or different regulations, that could have a material effect on our finances and operations. If we fail to comply with existing or additional FDA regulations, it could cause us to incur civil or criminal fines and penalties, increase our expenses, prevent us from increasing revenues, or hinder our ability to conduct our business." (Source: , pages 29 and 30)

Please answer two questions I have about the lack of FDA approval for ViroLogic's tests, the reasons behind it, and your paper's coverage of the tests and their tremendous impact on the news and public health policies.

First, why has the Times not reported on the absence of FDA approval for the tests?

Second, is the paper truly committed to reporting on all scientific aspects of the mutant HIV strain in New York, including questions about why the FDA has not condoned ViroLogic's drug-resistance assays?

I ask for a prompt response.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Dear Friends:
Some of the organizations and people behind the infamous alarmism and hype in July 2000 about alleged sub-Saharan levels of new HIV transmissions in San Francisco, which didn't prove true, are now hosting a community forum about the hype coming from NYC the past two weeks.
The sponsors of tonight's meeting have also done their fair share of scare-mongering about the drug-resistant strain of staph, syphilis surges, barebacking HIV poz men, meth use among gays, etc., creating a dense climate of hype, fear and confusion.
While it pleases me such a forum is happening in SF tonight, I think the sponsors, especially the health department, need to think about additional forums on how the department and its community-based partners owe the community answers about the lingering questions raised regarding the hype the department developed on many health issues for gay men in the past six years.
It isn't just the NYC health officials and community organizations who know how to create hype so thick SF needs to put on a forum about how to wade through it.

SF GLBT Community Center
1800 Market Street

5:00-5:30 refreshments
5:30-7:00 presentations and discussions

Rare Drug Resistant Strain of HIV: Wading Through the Hype
A Community Meeting about the multi-drug resistant HIV strain reported in New York City last week.

HIV medical researchers and community leaders
will discuss what we really need to know about this report and the implications for San Francisco.

Hosted by the LGBT Center, Magnet, and the SFDPH-HIV Prevention Section.

further info: For more information call Mike Pendo @ 415.554.9126 or visit

Monday, February 21, 2005

Feb. 22, 2005

David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

I am writing to you because of concerns I have with yesterday's story in the Times following up on recent events related to the discovery in New York City of rare strain of HIV. (Source: )

These are my concerns, in order of importance to me:


The Times also wrote that, "Dr. Ho said that he has disclosed all of his ties to the company and
that any suggestion of impropriety was false."

Okay, where are these alleged disclosures posted on the web and when did he make them public?

Not on the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center's web site, nor on the Rockefeller University site, the center's main academic affiliation. (Sources: and )

This is the list of board affiliations for Ho, omitting mention of his tie to ViroLogic's advisory board, as published on his research center's site:
"Committee Assignments & Board Memberships:

"1990-present Committee of 100 (Chinese American Leadership Organization)
"1997-present Board of Trustees, California Institute of Technology
"1998-present Board of Directors, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center
"1998-present Board of Overseers, Harvard University
"2003-present Board member, the MIT Corporation"

Can the two Times reporters who wrote today's story tell me and other readers where exactly Ho has disclosed his ties to ViroLogic? As far as I can tell from public records on the web, he hasn't done so, at least not on sites where one would logically think to look, his research center and Rockefeller University sites.

Since Ho claims he has disclosed links to the company, why weren't the ties reported in previous Times articles about Ho and the new strain of HIV in New York?


The story further noted, "[Dr. David Ho's] brother, Sidney Ho, does
marketing work for the company and once was the head of its
communications department."

True. Too bad the Times didn't see fit to include the above sentence in its initial reporting. Also, Sidney Ho, before taking a job at ViroLogic, served as spokesman of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center's media office. The full interconnectedness of both David and Sidney Ho and ViroLogic and the research center has yet to be reported in the Times. (Source: )


The Times stated, "Dr. Ho, who was quoted in the release, serves on the
scientific advisory board of ViroLogic."

But until today, the Times never mentioned Ho sitting on the advisory board and the board connection is conspicuously missing from the release, something not reported by the Times.

Additionally, Ho has collaborated with ViroLogic on at least one scientific study about resistance to AIDS drugs and phenotypic testing, a fact not noted in the release and so far not reported in the Times. (Source: )


The Times said, "William D. Young, the chairman and chief executive of ViroLogic, said
there was no effort by Dr. Ho to promote ViroLogic through this case.
He said the company's scientific advisers 'are very aware of their
scientific reputations and that's paramount to them. At some times I
prefer them to be promotional but they are not.' Mr. Young said
ViroLogic issued the news release to make the public aware of its role
in the testing and its extensive nature."

Partially true. The release did inform the public, but it wasn't a totally altruistic statement. It also served as a potential moneymaking message to investors on Wall Street.

What impact did the release have on ViroLogic's stock the day it was issued?

This is how the Dow Jones NewsWires of Feb. 14 reported the influence of that release on the company's shares:

"Virologic Inc. (VLGC) shares advanced 11.9% to $2.73 after the company said its test was able to characterize and identify potential treatments for virulent multi-drug resistant strain of HIV." (Source: )

I am curious to know why the affect of the release on the company's stock was not included in today's Times article.


The Times reported: "Critics have also charged that ViroLogic, the lab that did some of the
testing for the Diamond Center and the Health Department in the most
recent case, is using the case to promote its services."

Counting myself among those critics, I'd say there is evidence to back up our claims that ViroLogic sees the story as a way to boost sales and promote wider use of its assays, evidence I believe the Times should have reported.

Take a look at this passage from the Feb. 17 Forbes article about the company and its role in the rare HIV strain in New York:

"'A lot of physicians don't get newly infected HIV patients tested,' says William Young, CEO of ViroLogic. He's hoping that the news about the New York City patient's mutant strain of HIV will encourage more physicians to order its test for such patients. 'Personalized medicine is a reality in HIV,' adds Young. The test isn't cheap: It can run up to $1,250. But most insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, do reimburse for the screening." (Source: )

Reading the Forbes article, I think ViroLogic critics are justified in our charges against the company, which the Times have reported.


The Times also reported that, "The Monday after Dr. Frieden's Friday news conference, ViroLogic issued a news release calling attention to its work performing the test for drug resistance."

It's a fascinating release actually, in my opinion, starting with the headline:

"Recent Identification of a New York City Patient Infected With Multi-Drug
"Resistant HIV Who Rapidly Progressed to AIDS Prompts Health Officials to
"Encourage Resistance Testing in Newly Infected Individuals." (Source: )

To me, the term health officials means _public_ health officials, not researchers, but not a single public health official is quoted in the release.

The first quote, from Dr. David Ho, contains no mention about encouraging resistance testing. Ho, by the way, has the longest quotes in the release, giving an impression of being a health official, unaffiliated with the company.

The closest we get to a health official encouraging testing for AIDS drug-resistance is the following passage:

"'This case reinforces the importance of resistance testing in the
management of HIV patients, including those individuals who have not received
prior antiretroviral treatment,' said Michael Bates, M.D., Vice President of
Clinical Research at ViroLogic."

You'll notice this "health official" just happens to work for the company marketing the test. A more honest headline for the new release would have said health officials who also have connections to ViroLogic.

The Times could have found room in the story yesterday pointing the somewhat misleading release.

A prompt rely is requested and appreciated.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Friday, February 18, 2005

Forwarded Message:
Subj: Your E-mails
Date: 2/18/2005 3:57:14 PM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Dear Mr. Petrelis,

Thank you for your recent e-mails.

We don't think our omissions of the connections in the Monday article are
important enough for an editor's note. An editor's note would suggest that
a) our reporting was deficient and b) the omissions were central to the
story; i.e., that it is plausible that Frieden and Ho's connections
influenced their decisions in the AIDS case in some unseemly way. Neither
was the case. Though Ho is a scientific advisor to ViroLogic, in this story
ViroLogic was bit player in a detective story. The relevance of the Frieden
connection to Ho's center is unclear.

Those connections do seem worth reporting out for a different sort of
article, one that looks squarely at the skepticism and jealousies aroused
by this case. We are doing that reporting now and may have an article for
the weekend.

With regard to your questions concerning Dr. Altman, as you point out, the
Times' code of ethics specifically allows a reporter to accept an honorary
degree. Moreover, Dr. Altman first asked Times newsroom management whether
he could accept this particular award, and was told yes because it is
consistent with our ethics code.


Catherine Mathis
Vice President
Corporate Communications
The New York Times Company
So much for all of the queer citizen's of the People's Republic of San Francisco having progressive or liberal views, especially on AIDS and our brothers tweaking out on meth. This letter is the _only_ one to appear in the BAR this week on the suspected NYC supervirus and it may represent the views of far too many in the local queer community. I won't be surprised when a queer citizen of the republic in which I live calls for reviving William F. Buckley's call to tattoo the buttocks of PWAs and HIV poz men as an effective way of controlling the epidemic.

Bay Area Reporter
17 February 2005
Letters (Page 7)

Emerging AIDS Crisis

When the AIDS epidemic started, very smart people in the city of San Francisco, gay and straight, took immediate action. They shut down the bathhouses and promoted safe sex with vigor. The results were remarkable.

After this success many things have changed. For most, AIDS is no longer a death sentence. With treatment and good genes some folks live seemingly forever. Those who witnessed the horrors of the early epidemic are now dead or too old to get out and swing very much. (Sorry the truth hurts me too.)

Most in the scene today only remember seeing Ryan White on TV and wonder if he is still alive. Perhaps most importantly the drug scene has changed too. Methamphetamine has become cheaper and more popular. More people are smoking it, as that is cheaper and more potent. Smoking it also ruins the teeth. Those sore gums are wonderful for exchanging bodily fluids. Oral sex just isn't as safe as it used to be when you have no teeth and bloody gums.

All of these factors have helped the disease pick up speed lately. The new superstrains are a product of the idiotic behavior of the above-mentioned groups. What is really sad is when you look at the economics of their behavior. A ton of money was spent fighting AIDS. A group of idiots decided to act stupid and now AIDS has the potential to get real cheap. With these new strains you will die quickly. There will be no lengthy legislative pleas by bleeding hearts for more money for treatment, because now, thanks to some, there is no treatment. Congratulations, you wasted billions of dollars by doing dope and having unsafe sex. You weren't happy sending the letters of the gay community to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. begging for funding every year.

The smart minds of the gay community are waking up once again as they did at the disease's onset. They are talking about taking direct action against positive people who like to get high and have sex with people without mentioning their deadly secret. The people who do this are murderers, it is crystal clear. Those who behave this way but don't transmit the disease are attempted murderers.

We had a case here in San Francisco where a former health commissioner allegedly knowingly infected his partner. Don't whine to me about needing more money for education, this guy was one of the health educators. What we need is accountability.

Those gay men that knowingly spread the disease now amongst their own community are the worst sort of people. I'm a libertarian at heart. I don't care what adults you have sex with and I don't care how you party as long as you behave and I don't want my kids to pay for you after you tear your body up. At the start of AIDS we went to great lengths to protect the diagnosed people's privacy. Now many are getting death sentences because they use their privacy to infect others. The gay community is now coming to the realization that the black community has come to. We kill way more of each other every day than the ole Klan did in the last 20 years combined.

I call on our legislative leaders, particularly Mark Leno, Bevan Dufty, and Tom Ammiano to take the lead in this. After a few evil people shrivel up in San Quentin after losing their comfy cute lives people will take notice and stop murdering their own so-called community.

John Viletto
San Francisco
David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

The Times' chief medical reporter, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, coauthored a Feb. 13 article about scientists urging more research into the appearance of an apparently rare drug-resistant strain of HIV. He quoted an AIDS expert from the University of California at San Francisco about the history of drug-resistant HIV infection and there was no bias or favoritism toward the university. (Source: )

My concern, however, is the UCSF Medal, the university's highest honor equivalent to an honorary degree, given to Altman in April 2004 for his excellence in reporting on medicine and science. Altman received the medal at a $70-a-head banquet to raise funds for the university and laud his achievements. (Source: )

Accepting the award appears to not be in violation of the Times' code of ethics, according to paragraph 55 of the paper's rules for reporters. ( )

However, I am concerned about the lack of transparency on the paper's part to inform readers that Altman last year accepted an honor from a research university that he frequently includes in his reporting, and, whose experts he often quotes.

This brings up the question of how the Times maintains transparency regarding correspondents, the awards and honoraria they receive, and avoiding conflicts of interests, or the appearance of favoritism.

For example, as a reader, I believe I should have been informed, perhaps not in print but at least on the Times' web site, that a source in the past three years had touted Altman's reporting on a host of issues with a medal.

Same policy would apply, say, if the Tony Awards organization gave a citation to the Times' chief theater critic, threw a party on his behalf, and charged the public money to attend. Of course, it would be up to the individual reader to then determine if the theater showed favoritism to the Tony's or any theatrical personalities.

It may be no surprise Altman received laurels from UCSF since its researchers and spokespersons are constantly in his stories.

What responsibility do you, as a Times editor, and Altman, as the correspondent, have to reader to show transparency about reporters and their sources?

A prompt reply is requested.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Daniel Okrent, Public Editor
Arthur Bovino, Assistant Public Editor

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dear Friends:

AIDS researcher Dr. David M. Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center for the City of New York, has been back in the new this past week, after a strain of drug-resistant HIV was discovered in New York.

As is my habit with policy makers in the public eye, I checked for information related to Ho on sites dedicated to public documents, such as IRS 990 forms for tax exempt groups, phone numbers and political donations and what I found is shared here.

The figures on Ho's compensation package with the Aaron Diamond facility come from the center's IRS filings.

There is no breakdown provided in the IRS 990 of the government agencies that awarded grants to the center, as the IRS allows exempt organizations to withhold that data.

But I sure would like to know if the grants were only from federal sources, or, if the New York City government may have also awarded any contracts and funds to the center. Because including such information is not required by the IRS, I've contacted the center and asked them to provide me with some answers, which I hope they will do in the interests of scientific transparency.

You'll see below that Ho made no contributions to federal candidates or PACs, according to Federal Election Commission records on file with

However, since I did come across donations from other researchers at the Aaron Diamond center, I've included them in this post.

Michael Petrelis

Dr. David Ho's compensation:






Total: $1,742,036

Direct public support: $2,924,769
Government grants: $8,595,639
Total: $11,520,435

Direct public support: $9,627,815
Government grants: $10,472,428
Total: $20,099,243

Direct public support: $4,419,443
Government grants: $9,084,250
Total: $13,503,693

Direct public support: $3,880,376
Government grants: $7,306,009
Total: $11,186,385

Direct public support: $3,285,696
Government grants: $6,122,444
Total: $9,408,140

- - -

Ho, Dr David D
6 Iris Ln
Chappaqua, NY 10514-2430
(914) 238-6868

Ho, Susan & David
6 Iris Ln
Chappaqua, NY 10514-2430
(914) 238-0635

- - -

Markowitz, Martin
3/17/2004 $1,000.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond Aids Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Markowitz, Martin
9/29/2004 $250.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Markowitz, Martin
10/6/2004 $250.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Markowitz, Martin
10/29/2004 $250.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Mayer, Cecilia
8/19/2004 $250.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

mayer, cecilia
9/15/2004 $250.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

mayer, cecilia
9/29/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

mayer, cecilia
10/7/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
ADARC/Research Scientist -[Contribution]

Mayer, Cecilia
10/21/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Mayer, Cecilia
10/14/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Mayer, Cecilia
10/29/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Mayer, Cecilia
10/28/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10021
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center/ -[Contribution]

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dear Friends:

According the San Francisco Department of Public Health's 2004 report for Antiviral Resistance of HIV Tests Among City Clinic Patients, the resistance prevalence was 16 out of 134 cases, which equals an 11.9% figure.

You can find the four-page report at: .

Michael Petrelis
February 16, 2005

David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

In your February 12 edition, two stories reported that New York City's Department of Health and its commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden, have been collaborating with the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center on testing specimens from a man suspected of being infected with a rare drug-resistant strain of HIV. (Sources: and

Neither of these stories have reported on Dr. Frieden's connection to the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, despite the ease of securing this information. If you check the center's web site, you'll see that Dr. Frieden is a member of their board of directors. (Source: )

I believe Times readers deserve to be informed about Dr. Frieden's connection to the center. I request that an editor's note about this appear in a future edition of The New York Times.

I also suggest that Dr. Frieden's status as a member of the center's board of directors may be a conflict of interest and violation of New York City's Chapter 68 of the City Charter. (Source: ) To that end, I have written to the New York City Conflict of Interests Board about this matter. (See below.)

A prompt response would be appreciated.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Wayne Hawley
Conflict of Interests Board of the City of New York
New York, NY

Dear Mr. Hawley,

This letter is a follow-up to our phone conversation this morning.

I am formally requesting that you investigate whether New York City's Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has in any way violated Chapter 68 of the city's charter, which lays out rules for ethical conduct by public officials.

Dr. Frieden presently is a member of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center's board of directors. (Source: )

Since Dr. Frieden and his department of health have various medical and business relationships with the center, which directly impact public health and social policies of the city, I ask that the Conflict of Interests Board examine his relationship with the center.

A prompt response is requested and appreciated.

Michael Petrelis
132 Clinton Park, #1
San Francisco, CA 94103
Ph: 415-621-6267
David Corcoran
Science Desk
New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

In a Feb. 14 AIDS article by Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, the paper reported the following:

"Laboratory tests in Dr. Ho's laboratory and elsewhere have shown that the strain from the man whose case started the investigation is resistant to 19 of the 20 licensed anti-retroviral drugs."

The Times also said:

"The second virus is from an unidentified patient in San Diego who was apparently infected before the New York City man. It was found by scouring the records of a commercial laboratory, ViroLogic Inc. of South San Francisco, and portions of its genetic makeup closely resemble the molecular pattern of the New York City man's virus, Dr. Ho said.
"Dr. Ho's team sent the partner's virus to ViroLogic for testing. Doctors from around the country send thousands of H.I.V. specimens to the company for testing." (Source:

The Times failed to mention that AIDS expert David Ho, MD, sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the ViroLogic company; a fact that should have been reported by Altman.

I believe it is a conflict of interest for Ho to cite ViroLogic as an entity without informing Times readers of his connection to the biomedical firm.

All one need do to verify Ho's scientific relationship with ViroLogic is visit their web site to find this information posted there:

"The scientific advisory board at ViroLogic is made up of renowned leaders in the field of HIV. Based on their diverse qualifications, each of these individuals provides unique perspectives in the challenges and trends in the management of HIV. To learn more about the scientific advisory board, click on their names.

Stephen P. Goff, Ph.D.
Stephen H. Hughes, Ph.D.
David D. Ho, M.D.
Douglas D. Richman, M.D.
Robert T. Schooley, M.D.

"David D. Ho, M.D., is the Scientific Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York and a Professor at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Ho received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ho is world renowned for his pioneering studies on the dynamics of HIV infection and its effects upon the human immune system, and is an expert on antiviral drug therapy for HIV."

Furthermore, Dr. Ho's brother, Mr. Sidney Ho, is director of communications for ViroLogic. You can confirm this by calling Sidney Ho at 650-635-1100, Ext. 7406, or via email at

I believe the Times owes readers an editor's note explaining Ho's connection to ViroLogic, including the fact his brother is a top executive at the company.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

February 15, 2005

Sally Blower
Department of Biomathematics
UCLA School of Medicine
10833 Le Conte Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Dear Ms. Blower:

In August 2001 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that you were a member of the research team that developed a mathematical model "forecasting that 42 percent of HIV infections in San Francisco will be resistant to current AIDS drugs by 2005, further complicating efforts to keep the rapidly mutating virus in check."

Given the alarming news originating from New York about a gay man who within three months of becoming infected with HIV, developed a multi-drug resistant strain of full-blown AIDS, now is a crucial time to ask if your prediction for resistance has become reality.

Are 42% of all people infected with HIV in San Francisco resistant to AIDS drugs? If they are, that is crucial information for the local health department, AIDS clinics and physicians. If the 42% figure is not the current percentage for resistance, can you tell me if it's lower or higher than you predicted?

Regarding all new HIV infections, the Chronicle also reported your model estimated 16% of new transmissions would be resistant by 2005. Is that indeed the case?

Some of your colleagues, for a variety of reasons, expressed relatively little concern about San Francisco potentially reaching a 42% resistance rate by 2005.

However, I am gravely worried that such a high level of drug-resistance to any class(es) of AIDS drugs, in light of the New York AIDS patient, could portend tragedy for both our population and our public health system.

I respectfully request and would deeply appreciate a prompt reply.

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


Aug. 31, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle

Researchers at the University of California are forecasting that 42 percent of HIV infections in San Francisco will be resistant to current AIDS drugs by 2005, further complicating efforts to keep the rapidly mutating virus in check.

"Forty-two percent is a lot of resistance. It will certainly be a challenge if we do not get new drugs developed," said Dr. James Kahn, an AIDS specialist at San Francisco General Hospital and senior author of the report, published yesterday in the journal Nature Medicine.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Feb. 7, 2005

Mr. Thomas Bruein
Board of Directors
Stop AIDS Project
San Francisco, CA

Dear Mr. Bruein:

I see from the news release below, posted on your project's web site over this weekend, that you've hired a new executive director to oversee your programs of stopping AIDS among gay men in San Francisco.

What I find most curious about the release is that no mention is made of two positive developments in stopping AIDS: new HIV transmissions are stable and full-blown AIDS diagnoses are at their lowest level since 1983.

Is your organization unaware that the latest annual HIV epidemiology report for the city, in the executive summary, states the "HIV/AIDS epidemic has taken another turn in San Francisco. Previously, we reported that HIV transmission was resurgent among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the late 1990s. Our conclusion was based on rising trends in sexual risk behavior, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and, in several studies, HIV incidence itself. We now detect a more complex pattern in the HIV epidemic.

"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: )

Do Stop AIDS Project employees not read AIDS epidemiological reports from the San Francisco Department of Public Health? I ask this question because your news release failed to say anything about the tremendous drop in full-blown AIDS diagnoses documented in the fourth-quarter AIDS surveillance report. The report shows 466 cases were recorded in 2003, versus 245 AIDS cases last year. This is a 47% drop, which seems to have escaped the attention of your group. (

Putting aside for a moment the announcement about your new executive director, there is nothing on your web site informing people of the stable HIV transmission rate or the serious fall in AIDS diagnoses. Is your communications director not interested in writing up a release about the latest numbers, if only to make the claim that your programs may have contributed to the drop in AIDS cases?

Perhaps your employees don't care to read and understand the HIV and AIDS epidemiology reports gathered and published by our health department, which may explain the apparent ignorance about the statistics on the part of your group.

But both gay and mainstream daily newspapers have written news articles about the current state of HIV and AIDS numbers. Does your staff not read the Bay Area Reporter and the San Jose Mercury News when these papers report on level HIV rates or AIDS cases plunging? (Source: )

Back to your announcement. You're quoted saying the head "brings to STOP AIDS a proven track record of leadership, fundraising and management experience, making him a fantastic fit for us as we move toward the future.” Great, but does he have a history of either stopping AIDS or reducing HIV rates? If so, what is that history? And what exactly are his qualifications to run an organization dedicated to stopping AIDS in the gay community? There is nothing in your release telling me what your new director has ever done to stop AIDS, which I thought was your agenda.

I hope that in the very near future your group calls attention to current HIV and AIDS statistics, along with announcing a realistic plan to keep AIDS cases going down and HIV infections either level, or pushed to the point where they decline.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
New Executive Director Hired

STOP AIDS Project Announces Robert J. McMullin As Executive Director

Today, the Board of Directors of the STOP AIDS Project announced the hire of Robert J. McMullin as their executive director, effective February 7. McMullin, a native Californian, has 20 years of executive level experience in the nonprofit arena and has worked with organizations such as LA Gay and Lesbian Center and LA Shanti. As executive director, McMullin will oversee STOP AIDS Project’s programmatic, fundraising, financial, and administrative functions.

“I am thrilled and honored to join the STOP AIDS Project, I am looking forward to enhancing their work in the community and strengthening their efforts.” said McMullin. “They are poised to advance HIV prevention in new ways for gay and bisexual men with their unique community-based approach, volunteer engagement, and experienced staff.”

“We are excited to have attracted more than 60 applicants to this competitive process, and are thrilled to bring such an exceptional candidate to the helm of the organization,” said Thomas Bruein, President of the Board of Directors of STOP AIDS. “Robert brings to STOP AIDS a proven track record of leadership, fundraising and management experience, making him a fantastic fit for us as we move toward the future.”

Every month STOP AIDS Project reaches 300 gay and bisexual men through 24 activities and programs, talks with more than 800 men through street outreach, and distributes 83,000 condoms at 85 venues throughout the city. STOP AIDS Project operates with 16 employees, 250 volunteers and an annual budget of $1.5 million. McMullin will be receiving an annual salary of $93,000 and will relocate to San Francisco from his current residence in Los Angeles.

“Like most gay men, HIV has impacted me, my friends and my community too often and too deeply. I’ve lost a number of the most important people in my life to AIDS,” said McMullin, who is also HIV positive. “Right now, each of us has opportunities to minimize the continuing impact of HIV in our community and among our friends and partners while creating the kind of community that we long for and deserve. That is the promise of HIV prevention and the reason I am drawn to STOP AIDS Project.”

“One of the greatest opportunities working in the LGBT community and in HIV/AIDS is that things are always changing,” said McMullin. “I enjoy keeping organizations on the cutting-edge by encouraging constant creativity and innovation. My job is to make sure that things are in place organizationally for that to occur. Ultimately, I thrive in that kind of environment.”

McMullin added that he will focus on STOP AIDS Project’s contribution to the Department of Public Health’s goal of reducing new HIV infections by 50%, broadening funding streams to pay for new approaches to HIV prevention, and moving HIV prevention efforts into the places where gay and bisexual men meet and live.

McMullin’s experience spans two decades in the nonprofit arena at organizations such as the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and LA Shanti. McMullin served on the management team of the Center for four years as the Director of Development and four years as the Director of Major Gifts. During his tenure the Center’s budget increased 300% to a $30 million annual budget. Half of the Center’s programming is dedicated to HIV prevention, medical care and comprehensive mental health programs for people with HIV.

Prior to the Center, McMullin was the Director of Development for the LA Chamber Orchestra, one of the premiere chamber orchestras in the country, comprised of musicians from Hollywood’s motion picture and recording industries. The Orchestra was founded by Neville Mariner and is currently led by the world-renowned pianist and conductor Jeffrey Cahane. McMullin also served as he executive director of the Pasadena, CA and Huntsville, Alabama Symphony Orchestras.

“Its not very often you are given a chance, like the one at STOP AIDS Project, to make a meaningful impact in the community as part of your professional life,” said McMullin. “I relish the challenge and I look forward to the work.”