June 28, 2013
New York City -- The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) will march at the NYC Pride Parade this Sunday, June 30th, to declare an HIV prevention emergency. New statistics released by the CDC confirm that more than half of young gay men or MSM (men who have sex with men) and transgender women may be HIV-positive by age 50. In response to this clear threat to the queer community, ACT UP demands an end to the denial that has allowed nationwide HIV prevention budgets to be slashed for years.
Even locally, the NY Department of Health has been cutting prevention funding where it is needed most. New HIV statistics show that an African-American MSM is 6 times more likely to become infected with HIV than a white MSM. "We see local AIDS service organizations, like Gay Men of African Descent, that help underserved communities are having their budgets slashed by the city. This lack of funding and an institutional denial about the realities of how LGBT people have sex are putting this new generation at risk," said member Annette Gaudino.
To take its sex-positive message directly to the streets, along with traditional condoms and lube packets, ACT UP will distribute a "Fuck Smarter Toolkit" with critical information to empower every individual -- positive and negative -- to use all available resources for personal prophylactic, behavioral and pharmaceutical prevention.
Now that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been killed, ACT UP calls on LGBT activists and the larger LGBT community -- especially well-funded orgs like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) -- to renew the fight against HIV and AIDS. "In 30+ years of the AIDS epidemic, LGBT people have seen our communities ravaged by HIV. Today, we have prevention tools like Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), but we have to take more responsibility for our sexual health as a community," said longtime ACT UP member Jim Eigo. "We cannot surrender half of a new generation to the virus that stole so many from the last."
"Fuck Smarter! Fight Harder! FIGHT AIDS!" will be the banner message as ACT UP officially kicks off its HIV prevention campaign. With its allies in QUEEROCRACY, ACT UP also demands an end to the criminalization of HIV, which has contributed to the new epidemic by discouraging people from getting tested. Along with many original ACT UP members, a new generation of AIDS activists will march this Sunday. Veteran members and new activists are all invited to renew the fight against AIDS at this crucial time.