From the Treatment Information Exchange (TIE) Project
to the Community AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE)
Many of the activists we interviewed for the AAHP described the key role that George Smith played in establishing the TIE project, which would later become known as CATIE. According to Tim McCaskell, the TIE project began in the spring of 1990, growing out of the work of AIDS ACTION NOW!’s (AAN!) subcommittee on treatment information and education.
During our interview with Sean Hosein, he described how AIDS ACTION NOW’s subcommittee evolved into the TIE project. For years, he told us, AAN! had a committee that focused on collecting and distributing treatment information. As the committee developed, so too did the scope of their project. Treatment education, Sean remembers, began to take up a lot of the committee members’ time and energy. While AAN! was focused on direct action-oriented activism and policy development, the TIE project was centered on providing treatment education and information to people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as physicians and community groups. For George, AAN! had a role to play in putting into place the social relations of treatment, as opposed to the social relations of research of the pharmaceutical industry. Treatment information was, he argued, key to beginning to put into place more effective mechanisms for delivering treatments to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Soon, the TIE project stood on its own feet, though many of they key people involved continued to work with AIDS ACTION NOW!, becoming incorporated under the name CATIE. According to Sean, the organization’s name, which was coined by co-founders George Smith and Alan Cornwall, was picked “because it was a woman’s name, and we wanted to point out subtly some of the deficiencies in the activist movement, which is largely run by men – gay men – and didn’t deal with women’s issues” (Sean Hosein).
In its early stages of development, members of CATIE established an office space and Treatment Hotline, where people would call and ask questions about different HIV/AIDS treatments (AZT, ddI, DDC) and complementary alternative approaches to treatment. They also took on the publication of “Treatment Update,” which began as a column written by Sean Hosein in RITES magazine. With funding from the Trillium Foundation, CATIE began to develop into a national agency dedicated to expanding access to information around HIV, HIV treatment, prevention, and, later, Hepatitis C (see here to learn more about CATIE’s work today). Eventually, the AIDS Treatment Registry that AAN! and George fought for in the National AIDS Strategy was established as part of CATIE, which allowed the registry to receive significant funding for years. This also allowed them to put into place part of the infrastructure for the social relations of treatment, of which access to treatment information played a key role.
Interested in learning more about George’s work with TIE and CATIE? Check out the following resources made available by the AAHP:
- Eric Mykhalovskiy’s interview with members of the AAHP (available here)
- Sean Hosein’s interview with members of the AAHP (available here)
- “Getting sucked in; a problem of awareness of issues related to clinical trials, product testing, drug approval/regulation and ethical behaviour,” a memorandum sent by Sean Hosein to members of CATIE and AAN! in December 1991 (available here)
- AIDS Update articles by Sean Hosein in Rites magazine (Sept 1997, Dec/Jan 1988, Feb 1989, April 1989, June 1989, Oct 1989)
- “Testing AIDS” informational pullout by AIDS ACTION NOW!, published in Xtra! 1989 (available here).