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August 8, 1990

Scientifically Astute Activists Seek Common Ground With Clinicians on Testing New AIDS Drugs

JAMA. 1990;264(6):666-673. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450060010002

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PROTESTERS SCREAMING across police barricades outside the Sixth International Conference on AIDS in San Francisco are being talked about to this day.

But inside, a tense truce between activists and scientists made possible dialogue that should have significance well beyond today.

"We have a common enemy," says conference cochair John Ziegler, MD.

Working through the "tension between science, politics, and activism" can lead to "better policy, better treatment, and an end to the epidemic," says Ziegler, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Veterans Affairs Center for AIDS Research and Education at the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

With the ear-piercing exception of the last speech on the last day by US Health and Human Services Secretary Louis B. Sullivan, MD, no sessions were disrupted by activists, as happened at last year's meeting in Montreal.

Instead, the activists—many declaring