City Paper is not for tourists
I WOULD LIKE TO commend you and correspondent Benjamin Wittes for having the guts to address the Abundant Life Clinic’s exploitation of the city’s most vulnerable populations affected by HIV/AIDS (“Miracle Worker?” The District Line, 9/3).
I have been an AIDS activist for over five years. I have had full-blown AIDS for over three years. Anyone even vaguely associated with AIDS care in the District knows that I have worked hard to bring millions of dollars of grants to the District to provide care services for people living with HIV.
It has been very distressing to me to see increasing amounts of this money going to a clinic that allegedly discourages its patients from using drugs that have been clinically shown to help HIV patients—using unvarnished racism as justification—and then tries to sell them very expensive drugs that have not been approved by the FDA and have been shown to be ineffective in numerous trials.
As a member of the community advisory board of the Georgetown University AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, I supported a request to the National Institutes of Health to conduct formal clinical trials of Kemron and Immunex. This trial will begin this fall and will, I expect, confirm what the other trials around the world have shown, that these drugs are clinically ineffective.
Nonetheless, until these drugs are shown to be effective, public funds (apart from the clinical trials) should not be spent on them or on any other non-FDA-approved drugs. I would expect publicly supported clinics to provide clinically sound treatment following accepted protocols.
Washington City Paper has shown exceptional courage to meet these issues head-on. Shame on the District government, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Washington Post and Washington Times for spinelessly ducking these issues.