An animal rights group is taking credit for a researcher's failure to obtain funding for a proposed AIDS experiment that called for infecting 66 pregnant and infant macaque monkeys with a deadly virus.

University of Washington researcher Dr. Hans Ochs designed an experiment called "Maternal-Infant Transmission of SIV in Macaques," to obtain information useful in treating women with AIDS.SIV, or simian immunodeficiency virus, infects monkeys and is similar to HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS in humans.

Ochs twice submitted the proposal to the National Institutes of Health and was refused both times. His former secretary, Diane Broughton, sent a copy of the proposal to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society before it was sent to NIH in October.

When PAWS received the material, it launched a publicity campaign, complete with a 50-page pamphlet, designed to stir up public opposition to the project. The campaign spurred inquiries from NIH and from the state's senators.

"I am relieved that the NIH would not use almost $2 million for this kind of experiment. I'm sorry the process is so clandestine that it's up to a secretary to put this kind of information in the hands of a public," Broughton said.

But Ochs said the protest campaign had nothing to do with the funding rejection.

"I do not think that the campaign of PAWS has really done anything to affect that grant," Ochs said Sunday. "I can't accept that.

"It was reviewed and the reason (for the low priority) . . . is they would like preliminary experiments done. Those are expensive, so we cannot just do the first few animals to demonstrate," he said. Preliminary studies would cost $60,000.