Profiles of Grassroots Advocacy
The Global Campaign for Microbicides in North America is involved with groups in several U.S. and Canadian cities. Primarily these are collaborations with family planning, women's health, and AIDS organizations, with the local groups undertaking to serve the dual purpose of local community education and legislative advocacy. The work of these independent groups is extremely varied, and reflects both the geographic diversity and the specific backgrounds and interests of the individuals pushing the efforts forward. Here are some snapshots of microbicide advocacy in the U.S.
New York's group, housed by GMHC and the Harm Reduction Coalition, is a loose collection of individual members who have done HIV treatment activism, needle exchange work, and community education. As one member put it, "We're about as grassroots as you can get. We tend to be people who understand the need for more options, and the relationship between global poverty, and women's health." Contact: Talata Reeves at GMHC, (212) 367-1360.
In Connecticut, a group has focused on developing a campus organizing project, involving young women and (some men) from four schools in the state, including a Catholic university. The group employs two student interns who organize dorm workshops on microbicides, letter writing campaigns and speaker's training for other women. The group works with Connecticut Planned Parenthood and the AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC). They have produced a video on microbicides and have partnered with a community ethnography institute that received a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) to perform an acceptability study of microbicides among high-risk injection drug using women in New Haven. See www.global-campaign.org/localsites.htm for contact information.
Microbicides as an Alternative Solution (MAS) is a northern California group that is involved with grassroots education. They have been organizing community forums for over six years and are one of the oldest groups in the country. Recently, they produced a comic and brochure series for San Francisco teenagers about microbicides and sexual choices. Contact: www.microbicidesnow.org.
The California Microbicides Advocacy Coalition (CAMI) is a spin-off of MAS organized to advance microbicide research by coordinating policy among a coalition of California biotech companies, community advocates, and research partners.Contact: Alison Regan, (213) 736-4806.
One of the newer and most energetic groups is based in Georgia, whose zealous members visit Southern colleges, radio stations, and HIV-positive support groups, talking about microbicides to anyone who'll listen. The group has an active speaker's bureau of women, men, and PWAs, who have addressed many diverse audiences such as the gay men's chorus, students at a women's college, radio talk shows, and Atlanta's AIDS Survival Project. Contact: Terri Wilder, (404) 502-4710.
This article was provided by Gay Men's Health Crisis. It is a part of the publication GMHC Treatment Issues. Visit GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.