AIDS Responsibility Project
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
According to its website, the mission of the AIDS Responsibility Project (ARP) is to "to educate key policy makers and the general public to the unique needs of traditionally underserved HIV/AIDS-affected populations, and to develop strategies and solutions to overcome barriers to treatment."
The ARP was founded following George W. Bush's State of the Union 2003 address that promised "billions of dollars in funding streams ... [for] affected areas all over Africa." ARP identifies its primary goal as "to help meet a tremendous public need for critical information on the complex global challenges presented by the HIV/AIDS epidemic today, and to help build important bridges between underserved populations and the wide array of agencies, officials and organizations taking on bold, new efforts to confront these challenges as billions of dollars would soon be pumped in from the U.S. government." 
ARP founder and head Abner Mason had previous appointments under Republican Massachusetts Governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, as their Chief Policy Advisor, as the Massachusetts Undersecretary of Transportation, and as Deputy General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called Mason "a prominent gay Republican ... with little AIDS background." AHF called for an investigation into Mason's "possible violations of government ethics rules and practices by using the power of his [Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS] position to lobby to the government on behalf of pharmaceutical companies who appear to also be the primary financial backers of the AIDS Responsibility Project."
In its overview of 2003 activites, ARP lists newly-forged partnerships "with the Marlo Group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), AIDS Action, Daimler Chrysler, Baker and Daniels/Sagamore, The Dutko Group, Pfizer, USAID and the DCI Group."
ARP Slams Generic AIDS Drugs
During the the 15th International AIDS Conference, held in Bangkok in July 2004, Asia Russell of the HIV/AIDS policy activist group Health GAP, said: "Abner Mason is a member of the Bush administration's Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and chair of its International Subcommittee, as well as the president of a drug industry-funded front group named the 'AIDS Responsibility Project.' The main function of that organization, of which he is apparently the sole employee, has been lobbying against the use of cheap generic drugs. In Monday's Bangkok Post, Mason's group took out a full-page ad attacking generic drugs. It is hard to gauge whether the global AIDS treatment community is more shocked to learn that a drug industry stooge is at the highest advisory level of AIDS policy in the United States or to learn the lengths to which he and his paymasters would go to falsely undermine confidence in proven and effective treatment options." 
An Agence France-Presse report further described ARP's newspaper ad: "'Beware of the hype,' the ad was headlined. 'HIV patients worldwide deserve safe, effective and abundant treatment options - not false hope and false medicine. ... Rather than healthcare by press release, this conference should serve as an occasion to promote the principles of democratic governments; economic freedoms; infrastructure development; safe, approved and effective medicines and property rights.'" Download a pdf of the advertisement here
The ad also "took specific aim at the Indian generic maker Cipla, claiming the firm had attached 'strict conditions' to a promise it made to the Clinton Foundation to provide antiretrovirals for just $US140 a year. It also noted that on May 27 the World Health Organisation (WHO) had delisted two Cipla AIDS drugs because they were not 'bioequivalent' - in other words, they did not work in the same way as patented drugs which had been licensed after exhaustive tests for safety and effectiveness." 
Accessed August 2008: 
- Stephen P. Crosby - (Brookline Massachusetts)
- Patrice Franko - (Waterville, ME)
- Matt Keelen - (Arlington Virginia)
- Abner Mason - Executive Director (Los Angeles, CA)
- Brent Minor - (Virginia)
- Margaret Parker Alexander - (Washington, DC)
- Robert Traynham - (Washington, DC)
- Nicholas Ward - Secretary and General Counsel (Washington, DC)
- Kimberly Williams - (Washington, DC)
- Bush/Republican Initiatives
- Front groups
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
- U.S. prescription drug system
- Bob Kabel - Former board member
- Martin Meekins - Former board member
- Rich Tafel - Former board member
- Agence France-Presse, "US group targets copycat AIDS drugs," ABC News Online, July 12, 2004.
- Institute for Public Accuracy, "Top Bush Administration Member on HIV-AIDS Policy Also Heads Drug Industry Front Group Opposing Generics," press release, July 15, 2004.
- Craig Timberg, "Botswana's Gains Against AIDS Put U.S. Claims to Test," Washington Post, July 1, 2005.
Resources and articles
Related Sourcewatch articles
- Directors, Aids Responsibility Project, accessed August 20, 2008.