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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

AIDS 2012 Update: We Can End AIDS March and Rally

By Candace Y.A. Montague

July 18, 2012

Not just treat AIDS but end it.

The second march of this conference will be the We Can End AIDS mobilization. On Tuesday, July 24th, not one but five separate marches will occur simultaneously and converge onto Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The theme is "Occupy the Roots of HIV". Organizers are calling for policy makers to use the resources and tools available to end the epidemic, not treat it. Fliers for the march describe the mobilization in this manner "We will take the streets exposing the flow of money that funds harmful policies and legislators. Powerful, non-violent, and creative activities will lead all the issue focused actions to a major convergence and action at the power center where the White House, Treasury Department and the National Chamber of Commerce sit at the intersection of the barriers to ending AIDS."

Lead organizer Jennifer Flynn Walker, from Health GAP, explained more about the march and it’s purpose in an interview.

  1. What are you marching for specifically?

    Simply put, we are marching for the end of AIDS. I feel like the best-kept secret in the world is that we actually can end the AIDS pandemic. For real. Without doing that much more. We simply need a little bit more money in existing prevention methods, a little bit more of a push to protect the human rights of those most at risk, a little bit more funding to get enough people on treatment, keep people in housing. There are some world leaders who believe in science and are willing to enact proven policies. With that, we can really end AIDS! Our mobilization is not your grandmothers march. It is 5 separate marches coming together. That's what it takes to end AIDS. It seems complicated, but it's not. We know what we have to do. It sounds like a laundry list of demands, but it's not. The bottom line is if the rich countries invested a little bit more, AIDS would be similar to polio. A few thousands cases, instead of 33 million. We can do it.

  2. Why is this march so significant?

    This will be the largest political mobilization on AIDS in this decade. This is the march that will set us on the trajectory to end AIDS. It is the perfect storm of an advocacy opportunity. It is four months before the election. This is the time that we can win real commitments from our leaders towards ending AIDS.

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

    I like to share a story. A friend of mine is a mentee of a high-ranking official in the Obama White House. She asked him why President Obama was being unresponsive on AIDS issues 2 years ago. He offered her this loving advice. "There are groups who force us to listen to them. They can do massive turn out. Labor, climate change, women's issues (not the ones dealing with AIDS unfortunately), bank reform. AIDS hasn't done any real turn out in the past 10 years." To me, this was someone telling me how to provide cover to our President. Telling me how to make it possible for him to do what he wants to do in his heart. This administration official was right. We haven't had a good turn out for years. I have learned as an organizer that there are two things that will get you real political change. A hell of a lot of money or a hell of a lot of people. We are actually bringing both to DC on July 24th.

  4. How can people get involved?

    People can sign up for buses to DC at www.wecanendaids.org. They can email info@wecanendaids.org to get involved in the planning We need everyone to help plan this. It's a a beautiful community process. We are working together to end AIDS because that's what we care about.

I mentioned that we are bringing both people AND money. Well, obviously we don't have access to billions of dollars, but we are willing to put in what we can. Thousands of us will pull dollar bills from our pockets. Dollars that mean a lot to us. Maybe the difference if we eat a meal or not. We will tie a red ribbon to those dollars and toss them over the fence to the White House. We are giving our President a down payment on ending AIDS. We know that he will follow up with real leadership. We hope that other world leaders follow suit. In 30 years, we will all be able to stand tall and say, "There was a horrible disease that was spread by racism and homophobia. I did everything I could to end it. I educated, I prayed, I hoped, I marched, I gave my money even when I didn't have any and now it is no more." We will be heroes.

Be sure to check out DC Go Go band Living Proof Movement at the Plaza prior to the march on July 24th at 7th & Pennsylvania Avenue (right at the Archives Metro Station) from 11 am to 12 pm.

Send Candace an email.

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See Also
AIDS 2012 Pre-Conference News & Information

 

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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 Examiner.com and emPower News Magazine.

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