Thursday, February 01, 2007

CDC's Black Gay HIV Prevention Chief Coming to SF for Invitation-Only Events

(Dr. Kevin Fenton speaking at an AIDS conference last year.)

The highly-objectionable lack of transparency over, and full community participation and all-important buy-in of, HIV prevention in San Francisco, continues to unnecesssarily disfigure the CDC and SF DPH.

Over the past two days I've learned that Dr. Kevin Fenton, CDC chief for HIV, STD and TB control, who is black and gay, is coming to town February 5 for a one-day meet and greet.

Sure sounds odd to have this high a figure from Atlanta jetting into town for one day to glad-hand the staff at the AIDS Office of DPH, but that's the official reason why he's coming.

Fenton will be in meetings all day Monday with the HIV and STD prevention sections of DPH, and the meetings will be at the AIDS Office, located at 25 Van Ness Avenue. Who attends and the agenda items have primarily been determined by the interim HIV prevention boss, Ms. Tracey Packer.

I've queried Sunshine Ordinance colleagues about that law opening up the Fenton meeting with DPH, and it appears as though the meeting is considered a "passive meeting" and subject to the ordinance. However, this means the public can observe the proceeding, but cannot participate or offer public comment.

After Fenton's meeting at the AIDS Office, he's scheduled to make an appearance at the SF gay community center at an invitation-only reception, starting at 4 pm.

Why anyone thinks keeping the black gay Fenton's visit on the hush-hush and having him available only to hear from the elite of AIDS Incorporated is beyond my understanding.

Silly me. I thought we -- federal and local health public health agencies, community-based groups, gay men regardless of HIV status, but particularly PWAs -- were all in the fight against AIDS together. We clearly have the people with the bucks controlling what get funded and why, deciding who gets a seat at the table when hard decisions are made, and who's invited to give "community" feedback to the CDC, the federal agency that provides DPH with $10 million annually.

A side note: That money is targeting gays and PWAs who don't work for AIDS Inc and won't be at Fenton's events.

How the hell did we get to the point where the very target population for HIV prevention efforts of CDC-funded programs are locked out of decisions and important meetings? I'm not one who buys the argument that the unelected "leaders" of the AIDS Office and at the nonprofits, well-compensated all with CDC grants, can honestly represent my views or the views of many gays and PWAs to federal officials.

It's been said that the best disinfectant to secrecy and corruption is sunshine. Very true. Sunshine is also a good and required ingredient for HIV prevention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to mention this visit conflicts with the Gay Men's Health PArtnership all-day forum at the LGBT Center (which i believe is partly funded by the AIDS Office), which will be attended by many local service providers, and over 100 concerned LGBT individuals from the community. How curious... let's get everyone from the community together.... and NOT around the CDC Pope.