Rev. Al Sharpton to Join "Keep the Promise on AIDS" March in Brooklyn, NY
March 26, 2013
Advocates to gather at Cadman Plaza Park on April 6th at 12:00 noon; Marchers will call for funding and support to fight HIV/AIDS in New York -- particularly in light of recent funding cuts to New York public health services which will result in 68,000 fewer HIV tests
Hosted by SWAY, musical guests joining Reverend Sharpton onstage include DJ Lina, rapper Cassidy, Bridget Kelly, violinist/producer, Miri Ben -- Ari and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra whose performances will inspire the crowd before the March begins
New York, N.Y. -- Hundreds of advocates and community leaders are expected to participate in the "Keep the Promise on HIV/AIDS" March and Rally on Saturday, April 6th beginning at 12:00 noon in Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, New York. The event -- the third in a series calling on officials to commit to stopping AIDS -- will be hosted by radio and television personality Sway Calloway and features the Reverend Al Sharpton, one of America's foremost civil rights leaders. Musical guests include DJ Lina, hip hop emcee Cassidy, Grammy Award-Winners Bridget Kelly and violinist Miri Ben-Ari and the Rude Mechanicals Orchestra, a New York City marching band.
Created by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) the "Keep the Promise" campaign brings together local and national advocates along with spiritual and political leaders to remind elected officials that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not yet won. Additional supporters of the New York "Keep the Promise" rally and march include LifeBeat and the Brooklyn Borough President's Office.
This third "Keep the Promise" march follows the inaugural "Keep the Promise" March on Washington in July of this year, when a coalition of 1,432 organizations from 103 countries came together before the XIX International AIDS Conference to call for more global HIV/AIDS funding. Reverend Sharpton was among the special guests who participated, including Wyclef Jean, Ambassador Andrew Young, Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West, Margaret Cho and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In his rousing address, Reverend Sharpton called on the faith community to rise to the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS in their communities. Watch an excerpt of his inspiring speech in the following short video: "Keep the Promise Webisode 3: The War on AIDS Has Not Been Won."
Advocates from regions across the Northeast -- including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- will be traveling by bus to NYC to support the "Keep the Promise" goals and join in the rally and march. Participants are advocating for: increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and care; the pharmaceutical companies to reduce AIDS drug prices; affordable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS; support for the decriminalization of HIV/AIDS and to declare April 10th as National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.
"This march sends a message to national, state, and local officials to 'Keep the Promise' -- that now is not the time to retreat in this fight. In order to stop AIDS in this country and around the world, there must be mobilized efforts like this one to demand access to treatment and medication; to urge drug companies to lower their inflated prices; to support and to ensure equity in HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for all people living with HIV," said Terri Ford, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Chief of Global Advocacy. "The question is no longer can we end AIDS, but will we end the AIDS?"
In the earliest days of the epidemic, New York was one of the cities at the epicenter of the disease, where one of the world's first HIV/AIDS service organizations was born in 1981, the Gay Men's Health Crisis (according to CNN's Timeline: AIDS Moments to Remember). Today, effective medications have made HIV/AIDS largely a manageable disease and national commitment to fight the HIV/AIDS in the U.S. -- and funding -- has diminished. In fact, a recent $2,726,000 funding cut to New York's health departments as a result of sequestration will mean 68,000 fewer HIV tests (according to the Legislative Gazette's How will sequester affect New York?). This at a time when more and more people are receiving late HIV diagnoses, which results in poorer health outcomes and increased transmission. According to an article published by UPI.com on March 8, 2013, 30% of New York women are getting a "late" HIV diagnosis.
"It is important to send the message that this country's struggle against AIDS isn't over -- especially in New York, where not only is there a high concentration of HIV, but where funding cuts continue to negatively impact the city's ability to battle the epidemic," said Michael Camacho, New York City Regional Director for AHF and the lead organizer for the New York march. "New York still ranks second in the nation in new AIDS diagnoses. People aren't finding out their HIV status until late, and they are paying exorbitant prices for drugs they need to survive. That's simply unacceptable. We need to follow through on our commitment to providing access to prevention and treatment to everyone, everywhere."
Organizations that have signed on in support of the "Keep the Promise" march include: After Hours Project, Metropolitan Community Church -- NY, Positive Women's Network, Iris House, Exponents, HEAT Program at SUNY Downstate, Village Cares, AIDS Service Center (ASC), Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD), Commission on the Public Health System (CPHS) and Brooklyn Pride.
Also in attendance at the March will be AHF's Condom Nation a safer sex initiative that aims to distribute 50 million free condoms this year in the U.S. through a national tour of a 72 -- foot custom -- wrapped "Condom Nation" -- themed big rig. Several mobile HIV testing vans will also be on hand to offer free HIV testing to the public.
A "Keep the Promise" march in Atlanta, Georgia on November 3, 2012 served as a clarion call to better address HIV/AIDS in the South, through funding, health care reform, prevention and care in rural areas, and affordable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. Another "Keep the Promise" rally and march -- this time in Ohio -- is scheduled for later this year.
This article was provided by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
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