Letters to the Editor

Week of March 26, 2003

Yo Ho Ho, and a Barrel of Fun

Party pirates take S.F. by storm: Thanks to Silke Tudor for her exploration of pirate chic ["Pirates Be Cool," March 12]! Piratical types should know that the mutinous crew of queer performers at San Francisco in Exile (SFinX) is putting on "Booty," Saturday, April 5, 8 p.m., at the Jon Sims Center, featuring President Bush walking the plank and spoken-word performances by Elizabeth Gimbel, J'aimes, Melisa Spence, Celestina Pearl, Sara Moore, and piratologist Jessica Arndt. See www.sfinx.org for more info. Please clean your cutlasses before coming.

Sara Moore and Celestina Pearl
San Francisco

They be dorks, mate:Pirates be cool, my ass. As press secretary for the Partygoers, San Francisco's premier party-visiting visionaries, I seem to remember the boys spontaneously attending a "Pirate Party" back in 2000-2001 (Season 4, Episode No. 22). And, according to their firsthand accounts, the party was filled to the riggin' with dorks and dweebs.

Now, I'm not saying all pirates are dorks (the bearded man with a gun and a sword in your story seems nice), but I am saying that 80 percent of them have probably walked down that short plank to dorkdom and that percentage does not deserve a cover story in SF Weekly. How many doubloons, may I ask, did the eye-patched nerd squad pay you to run this travesty?

Paul Linton Hart
Western Addition

What about my fine crew?: Avast, ye scurvy bilge-blubbers!

Yer dimwitted lubber Tudor may as well patch her other eye, for she missed San Francisco's home-grown piratical treasure o' online gaming at www.puzzlepirates.com. 'Tis Yohoho!, the massively multiplayer world o' puzzling piracy, and it be in free alpharrr testing.

Be sure to print this lest we pillage yer offices in person.

Captain Cleaver
Dread Ringers o' the China (Basin) Coast

Never Happened

This wild tale you told:It is with serious concern that I read your recent article "Love Bugs" [Dog Bites, March 12]. As the HIV operations policy leader for Kaiser Permanente, I am responsible for the implementation of HIV testing policies in Northern California and need to go on record about several issues this article describes.

There are two possibilities here: one, that a violation of confidentiality occurred as reported; or, two, that your reporter was misled or misstated his experiences. HIV, as everyone knows, is a serious public health threat. One major advancement in the battle against this epidemic is the HIV antibody test, yet there is great resistance to being tested by many people who are at risk for acquiring and/or transmitting the disease.

A major reason for the resistance is concern over confidentiality; fear of an occurrence as described in this article may be why almost a third of individuals who are infected don't know it. For this reason confidentiality regarding the HIV test and its results are protected to a much higher degree than other more routine aspects of a person's medical record.

In fact, in California inappropriate release of HIV test results has both civil and criminal consequences. At Kaiser Permanente, there are several policies in place to protect the confidentiality of our members. These policies and practices bring into question the accuracy of this story.

First, HIV test results are NOT available on our internal computer system. Even if a doctor wanted to look up a patient's HIV test result on their computer screen, they wouldn't find it. For added confidentiality, it is simply not there. Second, HIV test results are only reported back to the provider who ordered the test. For anyone else to find out if a patient has had an HIV test and the results of that test, they would have to order that patient's medical chart and a record would be kept of all individuals that had access to that chart.

Third, to "look up" any test other than HIV a doctor would need the medical record number of the patient. Not the name alone. Anyone who is a Kaiser Permanente member knows that if you call, you need your number (or your full name, date of birth, and other identifying information so your medical record number can be obtained).

For the disclosure of an HIV test result to have occurred in the manner described, the two individuals in this story would have had to trade medical record numbers in addition to names and phone numbers. Coincidentally, they would have had to have the test ordered by the same doctor, and THEN that doctor would have to have been willing to be subject themselves to severe disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination with the added possibility of criminal prosecution.

Even the best systems do fail however, and I wish to assure your readers that I will investigate this claim and do everything in my power to assure that Kaiser Permanente is a safe and confidential location to be tested for HIV. I would ask that the Weekly and its writers apply the same caution to their stories, columns, and feature pieces about this deadly disease.

Michael Allerton
Oakland

A Tad Too Rad

Cops with no supervision? What agreat idea!: Matt Smith didn't directly ask, but at least one mayoral candidate supports real police reform ["Fajita Backlash," March 12]. Mike Denny answered a similar challenge from your Ammiano-shilling colleagues at the Bay Guardian with a fairly radical proposal. Not only should the mayor be more of a manager and less of a king, Mike wants to give control over police and fire stations to the rank and file, bypassing the political brass altogether!

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