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Video: Global AIDS Activists Take NYC by Land, Air and Sea

June 8, 2011

Housing Works' Douglas Sanders with activists in Bryant Park

Housing Works' Douglas Sanders with activists in Bryant Park

Spurred by this week's UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, activists unleashed a series of bold actions across New York City on Wednesday.

The goal: Push UN member nations to set aggressive targets for fighting global AIDS.

"We are at a crossroads," said Housing Works' Director for National Organizing Larry Bryant, who has been living with HIV for 25 years. "World leaders are wavering in their commitment to combat AIDS just as we are turning the tide in the fight."

Activists held flash mobs outside the UN, inside Grand Central Station, and at Bryant Park. "Freeze! Everybody clap your hands!" they sang to the tune of the Cha Cha Slide.

"How low can they go? Broken promises on AIDS! That's how low, that's how low. People are dying. Especially the po'. We say NO MO'! Broken Promises. NO MO!"

After, the flash dancers met up with hundreds of others -- representing dozens of AIDS groups from around the world -- for a march from Bryant Park to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, just outside the UN meeting.

During the rally, just as delegates were taking their lunch break, Housing Works sent an airplane with a banner reading "Broken Promises Kill. No Retreat on AIDS" over the UN. Following that, a 30-foot sailboat bearing a banner reading "No Retreat, Fund Global AIDS" sailed through the East River in front of the UN.

See rally photos

Wednesday was the first day of the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. At this meeting, which lasts through Friday, world leaders will discuss and release a declaration that sets new goals to fight global AIDS. Housing Works and dozens of other AIDS groups are calling on UN member nations to get 15 million people on AIDS treatments by 2015 and adopt the International Declaration on Poverty, Housing, Instability and AIDS, as well as meet other key demands.

Housing Works is also working to ensure that housing is adopted as part of the "effective global response" to AIDS laid out in the declaration issued at the meeting.

"We will not stand by as people die," said Charles King, Housing Works president and CEO. "And until we really do have universal access to treatment, we will continue to take to the streets -- and to the air, and to the sea -- to hold our leaders accountable. We have the tools to end AIDS, we just need the political will."

Participating groups included: ACT UP NY, ACT UP Philadelphia, African Services Committee, Health GAP, Queerocracy, VOCAL-NY, Proyecto SOL, Housing Works, Metropolitan Community Church of New York, The National Action Network, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, CitiWide Harm Reduction, HIV Law Project, Latino Commission on AIDS, St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, RESULTS, ACRIA, AMSA, Amesyth Women's Project, Housing Works, and Partners in Health.

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This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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