AIDS Activists Against Violence and Lies Ask Public to Take Action Against ‘Unacceptable’ Activism
More than 15 members of AIDS Activists Against Violence and Lies, including Martin Delaney of Project Inform and Dan Wohlfeiler of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California-San Francisco, state in a Bay Area Reporter op-ed that they have had enough of ACT UP/San Francisco's "personal and vicious attacks on [HIV] prevention efforts" (Wohlfeiler et al., Bay Area Reporter, 11/15). Members of ACT UP/San Francisco rally against what they call the "AIDS orthodoxy," anyone who raises money for research or awareness or who provide[s] services to people with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/23). According to the op-ed, ACT UP/San Francisco leader David Pasquarelli and AIDS activist Michael Petrelis have called HIV prevention workers at home "in the middle of the night" to harass them, calling some of the workers "Nazis" and warning them that "the day of accountability is here." They have also sent out emails containing the home phone numbers of health department members and other prevention workers and urged people to call them. Such tactics are "not fighting AIDS. This is violence masquerading as activism. We need to stop it before it escalates," the op-ed states.
The group provides action steps they would like the public to take against Pasquarelli's and Petrelis's "unacceptable" activism. First, they ask those who have recently had unprotected sex to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The group then asks people to call the District Attorney and "[d]emand full prosecution of Pasquarelli, Petrelis and their collaborators" for their harassment of HIV prevention workers, and they urge people to write letters to area newspapers denouncing the group's activities (Bay Area Reporter, 11/15). On Nov. 12, a San Francisco judge barred Petrelis and Pasquarelli from "having any contact" with San Francisco Chronicle employees after the pair allegedly made "dozens of obscene and threatening" phone calls to Chronicle editors and reporters (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14). Finally, the group asks people to "[t]ake some responsibility" for their sexual behavior by practicing safer sex. "HIV started out as a community effort. Over the years, it's become increasingly personalized, which has its good points and its bad. Mistakes have been made. Egos have sometimes grown extra-large," the op-ed states. However, "the answer is not to give up, nor is it to hate, nor is it to attack. The answer lies in taking action, taking care of one another and taking care of ourselves," the group concludes, warning people not to "succumb to the vanity of small differences" (Bay Area Reporter, 11/15).