Dec. 13, 2004
A front-page article on July 1, 2000, about an increase in H.I.V. infections among gay men in San Francisco misstated the given name of the of the city's public health director. He is Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, not Michael. (A reader noted the error recently in an e-mail message.)
Subj: Re: Error in July 1, 2000, NYT story
Date: 12/3/2004 8:07:38 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: David Corcoran
To: MPetrelis@aol.com (by way of NYT News
holy guacamole. you'd think there'd be a statute of limitations. however,
if we got it wrong we're obliged to correct it, even at this ridiculously
late date. let me know. thanx dc
Subj: Fwd: Re: Error in July 1, 2000, NYT story
Date: 12/3/2004 8:09:41 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: David Corcoran
Dear Mr. Petrelis:
I inadvertently sent you the e-mail I intended to send our reporter. My
apologies. As I said to him, if we got this wrong we'll correct it. May I
ask how you picked up an error in a four-year-old article?
>At 12:34 AM 12/1/2004, you wrote:
>>The New York Times
>>New York, NY
>>In your July 1, 2000, article about HIV rates in San Francisco by
>>Lawrence K. Altman, the first name of the health chief here is reported
>>The story, which is at
>>mistakenly reported the following:
>>"Dr. Michael H. Katz, the director of the San Francisco Department of
>>Public Health, said his was the first city to make such a link directly."
>>Dr. Katz's first name is Mitchell.
>>You can verify this fact by calling the public affairs office of the San
>>Francisco Department of Public Health at 415-554-2507.
>>I look forward to reading a correction in the next few days about Dr.
>>Katz's correct name in the New York Times.
>>San Francisco, CA
>Assistant Science Editor
>New York Times
Ever since that article appeared on July 1, 2000, full of factual and statistical errors, in my opinion, related to HIV infections in San Francisco, I've tried to persuade the New York Times to run corrections about the story.
Alas, despite mounting evidence over the years that the San Francisco Department of Public Health manipulated HIV numbers, and predictions of skyrocketing transmissions, simply not borne out in the intervening years in the department's HIV data, no correction about mistruths in the Times piece made it into print.
For years, whenever new data emerged from our health department proving the Times' claims wrong, I sent the studies and surveillance reports to Lawrence K. Altman and his superiors, and never heard back from the paper.
In early November, the latest annual HIV epidemiology report for San Francisco was posted to the web, detailing a flat infection rate since 1999. Again, I sent off a letter about the new report, along with a link to it, to the Times and didn't get a reply.
As December 1, World AIDS Day, grew closer I decided it was time to ask the paper to correct its mistake about our health director's first name in the 2000 article. It's Mitchell, not Michael.
And it appears from your emails, that a correction may soon appear in the Times.
Now, if you'll only assign a reporter to revisit the story and its message of alarm and doom, that would be a welcome development in my campaign to have the Times finally report this fact: HIV in San Francisco is stable and has been for years.
Here are links to the latest HIV data for San Francisco: http://www.dph.sf.ca.us/PHP/RptsHIVAIDS/annl2003Master-finalweb.pdf, http://www.dph.sf.ca.us/Reports/STD/STDMONTH.pdf.
San Francisco, CA