Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan said yesterday he will ask officials to avoid all but "necessary and productive" dealings with the AIDS activist group ACT UP.
Members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) led a noisy demonstration that drowned out Sullivan's speech at an AIDS conference in San Francisco last month. Demonstrators pelted him with wads of paper and other objects as he spoke.
Through a spokesman, Sullivan repeated that he will not deal with "people who behave as ACT UP did."
"Whatever dealings that other parts of the department have, we just want to make sure that they are necessary and productive. We will not let the department be used as a punching bag by ACT UP or any other group. We are determined to work together in the fight against AIDS," his statement said.
James Brown, a spokesman for the Public Health Service, which oversees the bulk of the AIDS research and education efforts in the department, said he could not give an example of the kind of communication that might be cut off.
"It would have to be determined issue by issue," he said.
Much, however, will remain the same, he said. For example, ACT UP members who sit on department advisory panels will not be removed, and ACT UP's advice will be sought when "necessary and productive," Brown said.
Larry Kramer, founder of ACT UP, said Sullivan's response only inflames already bad relations between him and the group's members.
"To Dr. Sullivan I say this: Your presence has been so negligible and you have done so little for us that whether you decide to work with us or not with us is irrelevant."
Kramer said the group has been assured that its relationship with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which does most of the government's AIDS research, "is still a productive one."