Erik McGregor Photography

Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist.

AIDS Activists Demand Simon & Schuster Stop Spreading Deadly HIV/AIDS Misinformation

New York, NY – Members of ACT UP New York, GLAAD, GMHC and Housing Works joined AIDS and LGBTQ+ advocates at a rally outside of book publisher Simon and Schuster Manhattan offices with a billboard truck on March 27, 2023 after they failed to respond to advocates’ plea to stop distribution of a book promoting AIDS denialism and HIV/AIDS misinformation scheduled to be released the following day, March 28th.

On March 20th, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)/NY delivered a letter to Simon & Schuster, addressed to President and CEO Jonathan Karp, demanding that the company immediately end plans for distribution of the book The Real AIDS Epidemic: How Tragic HIV Mistakes Threatens Us All by Rebecca Culshaw.

Activists also demanded that the company reassess future releases to ensure they don’t harm public health and that Simon & Schuster form a public health advisory group to assure community members that this will not happen again.

“This book follows the blueprint of decades of AIDS denialism that has spread HIV misinformation and stigma while undermining efforts toward HIV education and ensuring that people with HIV lead long and healthy lives,” said Brandon Cuicchi of ACT UP.

The letter was signed by over 100 organizations and individual public health advocates, but Simon & Schuster has yet to respond to the advocates’ demands publicly or privately. As the letter was being circulated, the linking hosting the book was deactivated on the Simon & Schuster website.

“While this is a good sign, there is no indication as to what this actually means regarding their plans for distribution. We need confirmation that they are going to pull the book, and that they are going to take steps to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, like cutting ties with Skyhorse,” said Leah Hollander of ACT UP.

The book in question is being distributed by Simon & Schuster on behalf of Skyhorse Publishing, a company that has previously undergone criticism for publishing conspiracy theories described as “almost comically agnostic on the truth.” In an email correspondence with Salon, a representative from Simon & Schuster denied responsibility for the content of the books they distribute for their client. Yet as Skyhorse’s sole US market distributor, Simon & Schuster is responsible for spreading their lies.

“It’s easy to say that fringe opinions can’t attract an audience after we’ve made such immense progress and have taken revolutionary steps to preventing, treating, and curing HIV/AIDS” said Jason Rosenberg of ACT UP “But who would have thought AIDS deniers would be given platforms as large as these?”

On Monday, just days after the anniversary of the first ACT UP action in 1987, AIDS activists, sick and tired of fighting this same battle for 36 years, will hold a press conference and rally outside of Simon & Schuster’s Office to denounce AIDS denialism and HIV misinformation in all its form.

AIDS Activists Demand Simon & Schuster Stop Spreading Deadly HIV/AIDS Misinformation

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