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Joining Forces for AIDS Care: Protesters Mark AIDS Advocacy Group's 25th Year

April 26, 2012

AIDS activist group ACT UP commemorated its 25th anniversary Wednesday by joining Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors for a demonstration in lower Manhattan. The recently allied groups are calling for a Wall Street transaction tax that they say could generate $400 billion annually for the provision of universal health insurance.

"Today, we have reinvigorated AIDS activism, building this new coalition with [OWS]," said Eric Sawyer, ACT UP's co-founder. He said OWS "has been a breath of fresh air for standing up for social justice. Something ACT UP has always done."

ACT UP, which stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, formed in 1987 to advocate for greater access to HIV/AIDS treatment. "Our first action was Wall Street and protesting high prices for AZT," said member Andrew Velez.

Wednesday's march from City Hall to South Street Seaport and back up to Broadway featured some 500 demonstrators holding signs reading "ACT UP & Occupy" and "Tax Wall Street: End AIDS." Organizers said 19 people were arrested after they chained themselves together and then to a lamppost, blocking traffic near the Stock Exchange.

Sawyer said he believes a tax on stock, bonds, and derivative transactions to fund health insurance "will happen." He noted ACT UP successfully lobbied for the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Back to other news for April 2012

Adapted from:
Newsday (Melville)
04.26.2012; Maria Alvarez

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
10 AIDS Activists Kicked to the Curb and Arrested at ACT UP Anniversary
More News on HIV Activism

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Anthony (New York) Wed., May. 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm UTC

New York-May 2nd 2012- On Thursday, April 25th the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), an international direct action advocacy group formed to challenge the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, marked their 25th Anniversary by staging a protest along with members from the Occupy Wall Street Movement which led to 19 arrests on charges of Civil Disobedience.

“The District Attorney’s office has made no offers of outright dismissal with respect to the 19 arrested at the ACT UP protest,” said Richard A. Luthmann, Esq. of The Luthmann Firm, who represents those charged. “What is clear is that anything less than an outright dismissal of all the pending charges shows a failure of District Attorney Vance’s Office to recognize the pivotal significance that ACT UP has had in combatting the global AIDS pandemic for the past quarter-century towards bringing about the day when AIDS is no more.”

The crowd, estimated by organizers as numbering 1250-1500, listed among its demands the institution of a small tax on financial speculative trading on Wall Street, with the proceeds earmarked for HIV/AIDS and other health services.

“We need the funds to get everybody on treatment, not only to keep people with AIDS healthy, but to stop the spread of the virus,” said Eric Sawyer in a release put out by ACT UP.

“ACT UP has had a seat at the table in informing and molding public health policy in every Presidential Administration, with the United Nations and with the World Health Organization,” Luthmann added. “The group remains a powerful force for social justice and change, and we are going to assure that they are treated fairly.”

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