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Five leaders resign St. Louis AIDS group in protest

Five leaders resign St. Louis AIDS group in protest

Five leaders of the AIDS Foundation of St. Louis, which calls itself the "voice for AIDS awareness and advocacy" in the city, have resigned in protest over what they consider misplaced priorities. Laura Pickering, board president until October, joined by three other board members and the cochairman of the annual AIDS Walk, signed a letter of resignation and protest that was sent to the foundation this week. They say the foundation, established in 1987, doesn't give enough money to service agencies and spends too much on administration. The group raises money through its annual walk and drag-queen bowling parties, among other events. "We want the community to know that donations they are making are going primarily to administrative costs," Pickering said. "Donations should go to people affected by HIV." Lisa Bedian, the new board chairwoman, said the foundation is changing its direction, in part because of the addition of new board members. With a two-year, $194,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health, the AIDS group has launched the Guardian Project to promote safer sex and use of condoms. The project sends trained "angels" to talk with gay men about safer sex. "I'm disappointed that these members have chosen to resign and that this board isn't a priority commitment to them, but we're taking a new direction," Bedian said. "We have a lot of work to do." Pickering and Mike Mullen, cochairman of the annual walk, said the walk held on April 17 raised only about $65,000, down from the $150,000 it used to generate. They also criticized the board's new majority for approving an 8% raise for its executive director, Thomas Adams. The previous board had placed him on probation. Bedian said the board has confidence in Adams. (AP)

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