Directions, Hours & Search
208 W 13 St
New York, NY 10011

Building Hours

8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Collection #120

Joseph Sonnabend Papers

Date:1964 - 1996
Size:5 feet


This collection was donated by Joseph Sonnabend on December 21, 2004.

Use Restrictions

No names may be published unless (1) the persons are publicly known as gay, or (2) their permission has been obtained, or (3) they are deceased. Restrictions are only in regards to publication; any researcher may view or copy any document in the collection. The collection contains patient files and may also contain other forms of protected health information as defined by HIPAA law. Researchers must redact any such information in consideration of the privacy of individuals as described above.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 5 feet of papers from Joseph Sonnabend’s personal collection. The collection spans across Sonnabend’s various pursuits and includes:
– Financial documents of Sonnabend’s private practice in the village.
– Personal financial records, including tax returns.
– A sample selection of patient files.
– Legal documents concerning an eviction suit brought against Sonnabend in 1983, and other legal cases represented by LAMBDA Legal.
– PWA (People with AIDS Coalition) board papers, memos, correspondence, and  meeting agendas and minutes.
– CRI/CRIA (Community Research Initiative on AIDS) business papers and correspondence, memos, meeting agendas and minutes, conference papers, grant proposals, and clinical study protocols.
– amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) mission, meeting agendas and minutes, business correspondence, and grant proposals.
– ACTUP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) meeting minutes and presentation.
– Sonnabend’s manuscripts and completed articles on AIDS and related research, including clinical collaborations, and detailed presentations concerning the Multifactorial Model of AIDS he constructed.
– Bulk Sonnabend article reprints from 1964 to 1979 concerning interferon and other research topics.
– New York AIDS Network meeting minutes.
– “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic” brochure (1983)- original pamphlet created with Michael Callen, including reactions and correspondence.
– NYC Dept. of Health surveillance reports, meeting agendas and minutes.
– CDC weekly surveillance reports.
– AIDS Research Journal edited by Sonnabend- submissions and correspondence.
– Personal correspondence, speaking notes, and CVs of colleagues, employees, and coworkers.

In the folder list and elsewhere in this collection the abbreviation JAS is used interchangeably with the name Joseph A. Sonnabend.

History or Bio

Dr. Joseph A. Sonnabend was born in South Africa in 1933 and was a retired physician and AIDS researcher. During the 1960s and 1970s his medical research focused on Interferon and infectious disease, and later work, during the 1980s and 1990s, focused on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Sonnabend was renowned for his early work in community based-research concerning HIV/AIDS, and his theory of the disease’s development, known as the Multifactorial Model of AIDS. This model asserted that AIDS developed due to multiple factors, including the repeated exposure of individuals to other sexually transmitted diseases and semen. This model was disputed by some in the medical community and has since been proven wrong. The Multifactorial model also led Sonnabend to advocate for safe sex practices which were unfamiliar to the general public at the time, and his vocal promotion of safe sex proved controversial within the gay community.

During the early 1980s and 1990s Dr. Sonnabend ran an infectious disease clinic in Greenwich Village, at 49 West 12th Street, and treated hundreds of patients with HIV/AIDS and related diseases. Sonnabend also collaborated with many notable physicians and scientists, including Dr. Mathilde Krim, with whom he started the AIDS Medical Foundation, which later became amfAR- an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS research and advocacy. Sonnabend also pioneered community based research with the creation of CRI, the Community Research Initiative, later known as CRIA. In collaboration with Michael Callen and Richard Berkowitz, Sonnabend also established PWA, People with AIDS Coalition, an organization dedicated to the promotion of promising treatments for HIV/AIDS.

Sonnabend died at the age of 88 in January, 2021, in London, England.

Folder List

Box 1

1. People with AIDS Health Group- board papers and memos 1987-1990
2. CRI meeting agendas, minutes, and memos March 1987-December 1987
3. CRI meeting agendas, minutes, and memos 1988
4. CRI meeting agendas, minutes, and memos January 1989-May 1989
5. CRI- Community Research Initiative- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos June 1989-December 1989
6. CRI- Research Department and staff meetings, agendas, and notes by JAS 1989

Box 2

7. Community-Based Research Conference Dinner 1989 presentation JAS
8. CRIA 1989 Grant Proposal for Virology Lab
9. IRB Procedures and DHS correspondence 1988
10. CRI- IRB Proposed forms and notes by JAS
11. Community Research Initiative Inc. By Laws
12. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos January 1990- June 1990
13. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos July 1990- September 1990
14. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos October 1990- December 1990 (1 of 2)

Box 3

14. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos October 1990- December 1990 (2 of 2)
15. CRI meetings and presentations- speaking notes and transcripts 1990
16. CRI- Interviews, interviewing guidelines and CVs 1988-1990 (1 of 2)
17. CRI- Interviews, interviewing guidelines and CVs 1988-1990 (2 of 2)
18. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos January 1991- February 19

Box 4

19. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos March 1991- May 1991
20. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos June 1991- July 1991
21. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos August 1991- December 1991
22. CRI- Clinical study protocols 1988-1991
23. CRI- IRB members memos and correspondence 1991
24. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos 1992 (1 of 2)

Box 5

24. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos 1992 (2 of 2)
25. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos January (no mtg.) 1993- August 1993
26. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos September (no mtg.) 1993- December (no mtg.) 1993
27. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos February, May, and August 1994
28. CRI- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos October, November, and December 1994

Box 6

29. CRIA- AMFAR correspondence and faxes 1993- 1995
30. CRI- Interviews and CVs 1992-1993
31. CRIA- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos 1995 (1)
32. CRIA- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos 1995 (2)
33. CRIA- correspondence and faxes 1995

Box 7

34. CRIA- meeting agendas, minutes, and memos January 1996- May 1996
35. CRIA- board meeting minutes and financial positions 1995-1996
36. CRIA- correspondence and faxes 1994- 1996
37. CRIA- research department meeting agendas and minutes 1993-1996
38. Some ACT UP meeting minutes and JAS presentations 1983-1991; including “neglected areas of AIDS research” (Feb. 1991)

Box 8

39. AMFAR mission, scientific committee meeting minutes, and grant proposals (beginning 1983)
40. CRI Model and Rationale 1988-1989
41. Multifactorial model by JAS: drafts and early articles 1983
42. Responses and correspondence about multifactorial model (mostly 1983)
43. JAS HTLVIII/LAV study proposal 1986; AIDS and experimental pathology 1983 (collaboration with O. Perble)
44. JAS, R. Purtilo, and D. Purtilo collaborations and draft articles including correspondence on ethical issues in AIDS research and treatment 1983
45. JAS, D. Purtilo, S. Witkin collaborations and draft articles on etiology of AIDS 1982-1983
46. JAS and David/Ruth Purtilo correspondence 1983-1984
47. JAS article reprints 1964-1969 (JAS author-bundled)

Box 9

48. JAS article reprints 1970-1979 (JAS author-bundled)
49. Testimonies on AIDS to Congress 1983
50. New York AIDS Network meeting minutes May-June 1983
51. Mel Rosen- GMHC Director correspondence 1983
52. NY State and City lobbying efforts 1983
53. NGTF- National Gay Task Force statement on blood donor policy 1983
54. LAMBDA Legal defense in “Gay Student Services, et al., vs. Texas A&M University” 1983. Decision and correspondence.
55. PWA- Subcommittee on safer sex 1983-1984
56. Reactions to “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic” 1983
57. “Safer Sexy” Safe sex guide- proofs
58. NYC Department of health meetings/AIDS Surveillance Updates/agendas/minutes 1982-1983

Box 10

59. CDC weekly surveillance reports 1983-1985
60. Committee on Bathhouses papers 1984-1985
61. NY Dept. of Health- AIDS Surveillance updates 1982-1985
62. Mathilde Krim correspondence; Testimony of Dr. Krim before Ted Weiss- human services Subcommittee 98th congress 1983 (with JAS comments)
63. Commissioner of Health report October 1985
64. HHS/NIH correspondence; NY State AIDS Institute grant application 1983
65. Grant application NYS Dept. of Health Multifactorial process 1983
66. State of California AIDS Project/NFTF Grant Applications

Box 11

67. Michael Callen letters to the editor/ papers/remarks to congressional delegation
68. Michael Callen draft notes and correspondence 1983-1985
69. JAS drafts of early interferon papers; 1983 Interferon grant application; Interferon Trials
70. Manuscript drafts Witkin/JAS “Immune response to sperm” ; “Fertility and sterility” 1983
71. Manuscript drafts and correspondence Preble/JAS “AIDS from the perspective of experimental pathology” 1983
72. Manuscript drafts and data Metroka/JAS “Generalized Lymphodenopathy in homosexual men” Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 1983
73. Boston Notebook and Omaha Notebook (research notes- patient data- brief)+ JAS Name Plate 1984
74. Eviction lawsuit JAS vs. 49 West 12th Tenant Corp. (1983) court papers and press

Box 12

75. AIDS Research Journal (JAS Editor) submissions
76. AIDS Research Journal (JAS Editor) correspondence
77. Letters and articles for AIDS Research Journal (JAS editor)
78. AIDS Research Journal 1.1 1983-1984
79. AIDS Notebook (publication) edit copy and responses (1983)
80. JAS speaking notes in defense of multifactorial model – March 1993
81. CRIA Correspondence 1992-1995
82. JAS correspondence 1983
83. JAS letters to the editor 1982-1992

Box 13

84. JAS conference invitations and speaking notes November 1994 – March 1996
85. Minutes of the Advisory Panel on Perinatal Transmission of HTLV-III/LAV NYC Dept. of Health 1986
86. JAS newspaper interviews + transcript of Charlie Rose interview PBS – April 1993
87. JAS personal Financial records 1982-1984
88. JAS C.V. and diplomas/Licenses/subscriptions (photocopies)
89. JAS C.V. 1994
90. Michael Callen C.V. 1992
91. Sample medical file #1
92. Sample medical file #2
93. Sample medical file #3