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.”

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