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Guide to the AIDS Treatment News, 1986-1993 (bulk 1985-1994)
MSS 94-28  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Organizational History

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: AIDS Treatment News,
    Date (inclusive): 1986-1993 (bulk 1985-1994)
    Collection number: MSS 94-28
    Creator: AIDS Treatment News
    Extent: Volume: 4 cu ft
    Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Library. Archives and Special Collections
    San Francisco, California 94143-0840
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], AIDS Treatment News, MSS 94-28, Archives & Special Collections, UCSF Library & CKM

    Scope and Content

    AIDS Treatment News has frequently been the first publication to investigate and write about potential new treatments, clinical trials, and the politics involved in government sanctioned and alternative therapeutics. It is a primary resource for community-based organizations and government agencies, and is also read by many physicians and scientists involved in AIDS research and care.
    The records included in this collection primarily document how this information is gathered and provides a rough daily chronology of developments in AIDS treatments over a five year period (1987-1991).
    The largest and most detailed series is the set of telephone logs kept by John James. These are mostly spiral-bound notebooks with notes written in long-hand on one side of each page. Each notebook generally contains about one month's calls. Entries are a few lines to several pages in length; headings include date and person calling (or called -there are no indications of who initiated the calls) and sometimes a one or two word identification of the subject discussed is in the left margin. Calls discuss meetings, published and unpublished papers, current research, methodologies employed, anecdotal experiences with treatment modalities, politics, and plans for future articles and activities.
    The next series includes both sent and received correspondence. These are almost certainly only a small fraction of the mail that actually went in or out during the years listed. They include correspondence on most of the same subjects addressed in the telephone logs. Included are flyers from 1986 that are not particularly unique, yet do provide a sample of advertisements and announcements received during this year.
    A series of writings by and information about, John James contains information best viewed as background information on James, his activities, and his thinking process. Many of the documents are not labeled or dated, a factor that might limit their use to some researchers. Biographical material on James is focused on his professional work and activities related to AIDS.
    The ATN Operations series is limited by the nature of ATN itself. This is a small, loosely run organization. Decisions are often made informally and oftentimes have not been recorded for posterity. Meeting minutes and related documents are scanty, and none have been found from ATN's earlier years. The period from 1990 to 1992 seems to have been one in which attempts were made to function more formally, and almost all of the documents in this series stem from that period.
    A series on meetings and issues contains notes by James on six conferences or meetings, the President's Cancer Panel, and the issues of supposed "cures", fraud, and long-term survival. A final folder contains seven papers or essays by as many authors.
    The series of photographic images, mostly slides, document protests, marches, and AIDS contingents in the 1988 San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade. There are also sets of black and white prints and color slides documenting the interior of the ATN offices on Church Street. Four of the slides show damage to the office from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
    The final series is composed of each issue of AIDS Treatment News from it's inception in April of 1986 to nearly the end of 1994. As mentioned above, ATN was originally published as a column in a gay newspaper, the Sentinel (and later Bay Times). When it began to publish as an independent newsletter in 1987, James went back and reformatted his original columns into the first several issues of the newsletter. In addition, long runs of issues have been reprinted in book form to increase its utilization in libraries, but nothing was added in the process. This run, therefore, is inclusive of all of James' published work on AIDS treatments through mid-November, 1994. Two indexes which were produced in 1991 and 1992 are included; no others have been created to date.

    Organizational History

    AIDS Treatment News (ATN) is a biweekly newsletter that reports on both orthodox and experimental treatments of AIDS-related conditions. Information is gleaned through interviews with scientists, physicians and other health professionals, people with AIDS/HIV, information learned at meetings and conferences, medical journals and computer searches, and through extensive discussions in person and on the telephone.
    ATN originated in the mid-1980s in a split from Mobilization Against AIDS.Another organization that broke away from Mobilization at that time was Documentation of AIDS Issues and Resources (DAIR), which in turn spawned Project Inform. All of these were community-based organizations formed primarily by gay men.
    AIDS Treatment News began publishing in May of 1986, in the form of a biweekly column penned by its creator, John James. The column first appeared in the San Francisco Sentinel, a local gay newspaper, where it was featured for over two years. In January of 1989 it moved to a monthly San Francisco lesbian and gay newspaper named Bay Times. Since 1987 ATN has also been published as an independent newsletter. In 1994 it had a paid circulation of about 5,000 and a staff of five. The staff has varied in size but has generally included about six people. Volunteers have seldom been utilized in the office but dozens of informants gather facts and leads and pass them on to John James. James is the editor, publisher and creative genius of ATN. His unrelenting information gathering at meetings and conferences, in interviews, through correspondence, and especially in telephone conversations, provides most of the knowledge upon which ATN articles are based.