Weinstein and his AIDS Healthcare Foundation attack Scott Wiener for his advocacy for PrEP and his opposition to ballot measure mandating condoms in porn
San Francisco, CA – (October 15, 2016) Supervisor Scott Wiener and leaders in the LGBT and public health communities responded today to a homophobic campaign attack mailer against Wiener by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Weinstein and AHF attacked Wiener for Wiener's vocal opposition to Prop 60 - which requires condoms in adult films - and for Wiener's strong advocacy for pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a daily pill that nearly eliminates the risk of HIV transmission. Weinstein is a staunch opponent of PrEP, whereas Wiener publicly announced that he is on PrEP, in order to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
Prop 60 - which Michael Weinstein and AHF sponsored and which Wiener opposes - has drawn widespread opposition from the LGBT and health communities and is opposed by both the Democratic and Republican Parties and all seven major California newspapers.
The attack mailer accuses Wiener of being "in the pocket" of the adult film industry based on one contribution he received out of 3,000 contributions. Weinstein's attack on Wiener follows a historic pattern of gay men who run for office being attacked and characterized as sexual perverts. Senator Mark Leno was similarly attacked when he ran for the State Senate in 2008.
"Scott has been tireless in his efforts to keep our community healthy and fearless in the face of deplorable and homophobic attacks by the AHF," said Senator Mark Leno.
Weinstein is widely discredited in the LGBT community, including for his anti-science effort to stigmatize PrEP as a “party drug” and shame those who take the medication. AHF has been subject to various investigations and lawsuits for fraudulent billing.
In addition to advocating for expanded access to PrEP, Wiener is a vocal opponent of Weinstein's anti-science Prop 60. Weinstein is attacking Wiener in retaliation for Wiener's advocacy for progressive public health policies. Weinstein is attacking Wiener because he does not want Wiener in the State Senate fighting for progressive healthcare policies.
“Michael Weinstein’s tactics are predictable given his long record of sex-shaming his own community,” said Wiener. “I’m proud to stand on the side of my community and smart public health policies like increasing access to PrEP and not driving the adult film industry underground, where workers will be less safe. If we are going to end HIV infections, we need to work together, not against each other like Michael Weinstein does with his hateful actions. I’m proud to stand with fellow leaders in the LGBT community against Michael Weinstein, AHF, and their bad policies.”
The LGBT community is united against Prop 60, including State Senator Mark Leno, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, and many HIV advocacy organizations. Opposition to Prop 60 also extends beyond the LGBT community, including the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party, and California’s seven largest newspapers.
Leaders from the LGBT and health community rallied in support of Wiener after learning of the campaign attack by Weinstein.
According to longtime HIV activist James Loduca: "Michael Weinstein is a bully and fraud who demonizes and slut-shames gay men while his organization AHF pockets millions. Together, we have made tremendous strides in fighting HIV, thanks to leaders like Scott Wiener, and despite well-funded and dangerous resistance from Michael Weinstein."
PrEP advocate Matthew Sachs added: "Michael Weinstein and AHF exploit the stigma and shame that all too many people feel around PrEP. Instead of working to improve our community's health, Weinstein plays on people's emotions and fears. Scott Wiener stood up for his community by taking a brave stance to promote awareness and access around PrEP, and to reduce stigma. It's shameful that Weinstein and AHF are attacking Wiener for doing so."
Weinstein has a long history of attacking and stigmatizing leaders in the HIV community like Scott Wiener. In 2010, he organized protests against then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite her long history of leadership on HIV/AIDS issues. Wiener, who has been a champion for HIV prevention funding for years, recently helped launch San Francisco’s Getting to Zero effort, which aims to end all new HIV infections in San Francisco.
“Scott Wiener is a consistent and strong leader on HIV policies,” said Dr. Paul Volberding, who has been on the frontline in the battle against AIDS since the early 1980s. “He will be a strong supporter of well-considered approaches to end the epidemic. He deserves support.”
Wiener has worked to fund access to PrEP. Recently, Wiener wrote a follow up piece to his original post about PrEP, including discussing what can be done to improve PrEP access and awareness.