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AIDS 2012 Update: Keep the Promise March on Washington

By Candace Y.A. Montague

July 18, 2012

Keep the Promise

Well it wouldn't be an International AIDS Conference without a protest. This time around it's one city with two AIDS Marches. The first of the two is the 'Keep the Promise' march and rally sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. On Sunday, July 22nd at 12 noon, participants from nations across the globe will join in on the grounds of the Washington Monument to remind world leaders that the AIDS epidemic is still a major public health threat and must be stopped. Special guests will include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley, Andrew Young, Wyclef Jean, Margaret Cho, and Dr. Cornell West. The rally will precede the opening of the International AIDS Conference that is set to begin on Monday, July 23rd.

Omonigho Ufomata, Director of Global Advocacy and Policy for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, answered a few questions about the purpose of the march.

  1. What is AHF marching for with this mobilization?

    The Keep the Promise March essentially calls for access to treatment and a call to action from world leaders to do more to provide treatment for people with HIV. We are focused on the recent research that shows that if a person is in treatment they are less likely to transmit the disease. We see that as a way to really fight this virus. We want world leaders to do what they can to continue to fund treatment.

  2. Who will be marching and where are they coming from?

    We have a Keep the Promise coalition that comprises of groups from all over the world. On our website, we have a list of organizations that have signed on to join us. It's close to 1,300 organizations strong. We have many organizations from the United States as well as partners and advocates from the DC area to join us. It's a great coalition from all over the world coming to join us. We're really excited.

  3. Why is this march significant?

    We see this as a significant time. This is the first time this conference is coming to the United States in over 20 years. It's right before the presidential elections are set to begin here. And also, for the first time in 30 years, we can honestly say that we have the tools at our disposal to really fight this and make a significant effort to stop AIDS. We are really committed to testing more people and get people into treatment. We are sending the message to our world leaders that this is definitely not the time to retreat. The war has not been won and we want them to continue to fight this. The world will be watching and the focus will be on what's happening here during the conference. So we're seizing the opportunity to tell the government to continue to fund HIV research and prevention. We're seeing a wavering in support and a reduction that we really don't want to see.

  4. Are marches and rallies still relevant in the age of the Internet and Social Media?

    Absolutely. It's a representation that you stand for something and we believe that brings change. I think it's an opportunity to see that thousands of people stand for this issue. That is relevant because that's what world leaders and people who control the purse strings look at. They will see that there are thousands of people who still care about this issue and they stand together. Besides standing for the political aspect, it's an opportunity for advocates who have been on the front lines of this issue to really push it and ban together and say that we have not given up on this. We are still committed. This is a culmination of advocacy that has been happening for months and months. We have had significant activity that has lead up to the march.

  5. How can people get involved?

    Come down to the Washington Monument grounds along Constitution Avenue in NW. Also go to our website to get more information about where we are going to be. We want everyone out there that day. Create banners and posters. Make sure that your message is a part of that day.

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See Also
AIDS 2012 Pre-Conference News & Information

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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC and emPower News Magazine.

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