Activists doubt Gore tries to reduce cost of AIDS drugs

ACT-UP, candidate's staff talk on medicine in Africa

June 23, 1999|By Jonathan Weisman | Jonathan Weisman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Rattled by a series of embarrassing demonstrations last week, members of Al Gore's campaign and White House staffs met with AIDS activists yesterday to try to persuade them that the vice president is trying to reduce the cost of AIDS drugs in Africa.

But the activists emerged undaunted and unconvinced, pledging they would go forward with a planned series of protests, including an anti-Gore rally Monday night in Philadelphia.

"It's full speed ahead," said Wayne Turner, a member of the AIDS group ACT-UP, who met with the Gore campaign's political director, Donna Brazile. "We gave her a flier."

Other AIDS activists met with White House AIDS czar Sandra Thurman, Gore national security spokesman Tom Rosshirt, and Clark Ray, Tipper Gore's incoming chief of staff. They contend that Gore has sided with pharmaceutical companies to block South Africa from producing cheap, generic AIDS drugs.

The vice president's staff says the activists have badly distorted Gore's record, ignoring the work he has done on the AIDS crisis in southern Africa and oversimplifying a complex trade issue.

But clearly, three raucous demonstrations at campaign events last week got Gore's attention.

Pub Date: 6/23/99

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