AIDS Czar Expresses Support for San Francisco AIDS Program Accused of Misusing Federal HIV Prevention Funds
White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Scott Evertz last week said that the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project, which has been labeled obscene by some federal officials, does "good work" and "ought to be left alone," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "We're not going to roll back the clock on any good work that occurred in the past," Evertz told researchers at the University of California-San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25). A report presented last year by the HHS inspector general stated that the Stop AIDS Project used some federal funds to provide HIV prevention workshops that encouraged sexual activity -- a violation of federal law -- and met the "legal definition of obscene material." CDC guidelines for HIV prevention programs state that the programs cannot promote sexual activity or intravenous drug use and must meet the obscenity standards set forth in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Case Miller v. California (California Healthline, 11/16/01). The fiscal year 2002 Labor-HHS appropriations bill (HR 3061), approved last month, contains an amendment requiring the HHS inspector general to conduct an audit of all federally funded AIDS prevention programs and report its findings to Congress (California Healthline, 12/21/01).
Evertz said yesterday that although the Stop AIDS Project was "'being put through the ringer,' there was no intention to submit community-based organizations throughout the country to 'inordinately time-consuming and costly audits,'" the Chronicle reports. Evertz added that he felt the Stop AIDS Project was meeting guidelines that call for local review of AIDS programs. Such a review was carried out last year by a panel of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. James Loyce, director of the San Francisco Office of AIDS, said that Evertz' comments were "encouraging" but that "it remains to be seen what the [HHS] inspector general" will do about the audits (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.