Peter Taback's first reaction to the Center for AIDS Prevention's prominent advertisement on the New York Times' Web site  was jealousy. Taback, communications director for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation , was impressed another organization had cast its reach so far.
But on closer inspection, his envy shifted to outrage.
The Beverly Hills-based Center for AIDS Prevention has mobilized a nationwide fundraising campaign, but members of the tight-knit AIDS community in California have never heard of the group. Its history is shrouded in mystery, and even people who have interacted with the group are uncertain of its purpose. The Web site  offers incorrect information about AIDS prevention and treatment -- such as the suggestion that birth control pills prevent the spread of HIV  (PDF). The charity's proprietor also has ties to a for-profit company that sold ineffective herbal AIDS remedies to replace antiretroviral drugs.
The center is committing "public health malpractice," Taback said. "To have misinformation like that on the Web site is profoundly disturbing."