HIV/AIDS activists angry at Bernie Sanders for ‘misleading’ claim

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

When you piss off Peter Staley, who has made a name for himself as a leading activist for the rights of those with HIV and AIDS, and you’re running for president, expect a shitstorm to follow.

Staley says he feels “used and abused” by the campaign of runner-up Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, for misrepresenting a meeting with him and other activists regarding the ongoing crisis and how to fund treatment for combatting the virus.

Staley is no slouch in this battle. He is the founder of the Treatment Action Group and the website AIDSmeds.com, now known as POZ.com

According to a post he wrote on Facebook, Staley says Sanders never brought up the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s controversial ballot initiative, called the “California Drug Price Relief Act,” which aims to lower the price of treatment. In fact, he wrote that it was the activists themselves who initiated the conversation and raised serious concerns about how it might backfire and impact access to these important drugs.

But that’s now the Sanders campaign spun the meeting, issuing a press release that boasted of his support for the ballot initiative. Staley stressed, in all caps, “WE DID NOT ENDORSE AHF’S INITIATIVE,” to allay fears stirred-up by the Sanders campaign that he and other activists were taking a stand that does not have universal support within the community.

LGBTQNation reached out to the Sanders campaign for reaction and at press time was still waiting for a response.

Here’s Staley’s post, and below it, what he calls “the misleading release” from the Sanders campaign.

“Feeling used and abused by the Sanders campaign right now. They just issued a press release making it sound like our meeting was about his endorsement of AHF’s drug pricing ballot initiative in CA. Senator Sanders never brought the issue up during our meeting. WE brought it up near the end, only to tell him that we had been flooded with messages from all the leading AIDS organizations in CA with deep concerns about AHF’s initiative — they are worried it could actually negatively impact access to AIDS drugs. Those groups have tried to reach the campaign with these concerns but had hit a brick wall. We asked Sanders to designate someone in his campaign to talk with these groups, and he agreed to this. WE DID NOT ENDORSE AHF’S INITIATIVE. His campaign should not have issued a press release implying this was a major topic of discussion at the meeting, and that there was general agreement on the Senator’s position on this. Anything but.

The press release is after the break.

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