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AHF Seeks White House Clarification After Press Room Flap Over CDC's HIV Numbers
Date:12/11/2007

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is seeking clarification from the White House regarding a press briefing late last week during which Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino had a curt exchange with reporter Les Kingsolving over questions he tried to pose regarding the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and its latest US HIV data. Kingsolving, from the ultra-conservative Media Research Center, started to ask about the CDC's latest HIV statistics and infection rates among men who have sex with men (MSM), but Perino refused to acknowledge the questions and moved on to another reporter. The CDC has not yet publicly released these new US numbers, which are widely expected to show a dramatic 35% to 50% increase in HIV rates. According to CDC officials, the reason for the delay is that the data is currently under "peer review" at a scientific journal and will not be released to the public until early in 2008, a move that has angered and frustrated AIDS activists nationwide.

"There are just too many unanswered questions from this White House Press Room exchange on a crucial domestic AIDS issue for us not to ask the White House and Ms. Perino for clarification," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "It is widely understood that Kingsolving has a separate agenda, but AHF would like to know if the White House truly believes that it was, 'inappropriate ... to bring up those questions in the briefing room,' as Ms. Perino remarked about Kingsolving's line of HIV/AIDS questioning, or was she merely responding to that particular messenger? More important, what is the White House response to this pending CDC announcement of a much higher domestic HIV rate? And does the White House support the fact that the CDC seems to be stonewalling on the release of these numbers? From both a public health perspective and as the Administration works to finish preparing its 2008 budget, the timely release of such
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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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