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GLAAD, ACT UP NY UNITE IN PROTEST AT SIMON & SCHUSTER HEADQUARTERS OVER AIDS DENIALISM BOOK RELEASE
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
A coalition of over 500 organizations and notables combined have signed onto an open letter by ACT UP NY members demanding publishers Simon & Schuster stop the distribution of “The Real AIDS Epidemic: How The HIV Tragic Mistake Threatens Us All,” by known HIV/AIDS denialist Rebecca V. Culshaw.
Protestors from ACT UP NY are at Simon & Schuster headquarters today (Monday, March 27th) to alert to the falsehoods in the book and elevate the truth about HIV.
PHOTOS/VIDEOS OF ACTUP NY PROTEST HERE
“It is unimaginable that Simon & Schuster, one of the largest and most respected publishing companies in America, would distribute a book by an author with a history of spreading false and scientifically disproven beliefs regarding HIV,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “In an era where misinformation spreads faster than truth, Rebecca V. Culshaw’s rhetoric has the potential to result in devastating consequences for people living with HIV. While HIV is now manageable, it is still an epidemic, particularly in the South, where racism, homophobia, HIV stigma, and the lack of access to high-quality healthcare continue to fuel an HIV crisis in communities of color. With the release of Culshaw’s book, Simon & Schuster is choosing profit over public health in an alarming partnership that should concern us all.”
“Research has shown conclusively that misinformation and denialism do material harm to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment,” said ACT UP NY. “As a major publishing house, Simon & Schuster has a duty to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS misinformation and denialism. Every occurrence adds needless life to an epidemic that has persisted for far too long.”
Statements from ACT UP NY to play on a digital billboard truck outside of Simon & Schuster headquarters today
(Monday, March 27, 2023) Today GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, in partnership with ACT UP NY, is descending on the New York headquarters of Simon & Schuster in opposition to the March 28 distribution of “The Real AIDS Epidemic: How The HIV Tragic Mistake Threatens Us All,” by author Rebecca V. Culshaw.
Statements and images from ACT UP NY will be displayed on a digital billboard truck outside Simon & Schuster headquarters at 1230 Avenue of The Americas (between 48th & 49th Streets/6th Avenue entrance) all day. Media can access photos here, and embeddable social posts at twitter.com/glaad and instagram.com/glaad.
Members from ACT UP NY will lead an in-person demonstration at noon. This action follows the March 20 release of an open letter from ACT UP NY to Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster. In the letter, members of ACT UP NY listed three demands of the publishing house:
- Simon & Schuster immediately end plans for distribution of the book, “The Real AIDS Epidemic: How the Tragic HIV Mistake Threatens Us All by Rebecca Culshaw.”
- Simon & Schuster reassess other future releases to ensure that other books won’t assist similar damage to public health.
- Simon & Schuster create a public health working group to assure community members that this will not happen again.
Excerpt from the coalition letter signed by over 500 organizations and notables combined:
“AIDS denialism poses a real health risk to people living with HIV and their sexual partners. We know that patients who fall into AIDS denialism are more likely to experience HIV-related symptoms of illness and have higher, detectable viral loads, meaning the virus (which is real) can be transmitted to their sexual partners. By releasing an AIDS denialist book, Simon & Schuster would encourage vulnerable people to ignore medical directions and stop their medications, which is dangerous to their health and is likely to lead to a higher amount of virus in their bodies.”
Culshaw’s latest release is not her first published material espousing AIDS denialism, nor the first time medical professionals and HIV advocates have challenged her dangerous rhetoric publicly. Dr. Kenneth Whitaker Witwer of John Hopkins Medicine and Dr. Ruy Ribeiro of the University of New Mexico dismantled Culshaw’s “egregious errors” in a four-page critique after the release of her 2007 book “Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?”
Facts about HIV/AIDS:
While 86% of people with HIV are diagnosed, and 66% are linked to care, only 37% remain in regular care.
650 000 [510 000–860 000] people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2021.
40.1 million [33.6 million–48.6million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men of all races and ethnicities remain the population most profoundly affected by HIV.
African Americans continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV compared with other races and ethnicities.
While the number of new HIV infections has decreased since the 1980s, new infections have remained at about 50,000 per year for more than a decade.
People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV.
Medications like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) protect people who do not have HIV from contracting HIV.
Journalists reporting on HIV/AIDS can find resources here.
A snapshot of organizations and individuals that have signed the letter to Simon & Schuster:
Act Now: End AIDS (ANEA)
Seven Stories Press
Southern Tier AIDS Program/Southern Tier Care Coordination
Treatment Action Group (TAG)
My Fabulous Disease
New York City AIDS Memorial
Disability in Publishing
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Oni Blackstock, MD, MHS
Julianna Catania, MPH
Rebecca Cohen MD, MPH
Tyler Fuller, MTS, MPH, CHES
Ellen Isaacs, MD
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.