AIDS Activists Rally Outside Senator Frist's Nashville Office
March 10, 2003
A small group of protesters who claim Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is backing off support for international AIDS funding staged a noisy confrontation at his Nashville office Friday. A few hours earlier, about 20 others gave the senator an early wake-up call outside his Washington home.Adapted from:
Nashville protester and AIDS patient Sandy Katz and six others pounded on the office's locked doors for several minutes before pushing past surprised staffers who threatened to call police. After several minutes of shouting and passing out leaflets, the group left peacefully.
Outside, they argued that Frist has allowed his allegiance to the White House to interfere with his commitment to the AIDS fight by not reintroducing a bill from the previous Congress that would have given billions of dollars to the effort. Last year, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Frist (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation that would have given $2.5 billion in 2004 to the effort, including $1.2 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The measure passed in the Senate but died in the House.
Frist's spokesperson, Nick Smith, said the senator has not reintroduced the bill this year because he is instead working with "Senate Democrats, Republicans and the White House to craft the best legislation possible." President Bush announced in his State of the Union speech plans to triple US spending on AIDS, but the Global Fund was not mentioned as a possible recipient. The protesters argue that implementing a new program will take years, leaving 6 million people currently infected with the disease to die.
In Washington, about 20 people blared sirens, flashed lights and distributed fliers outside Frist's home near the Capitol at 6 a.m. University of Maryland student Sean Barry, a member of the national Student Global AIDS Campaign, helped organize a group of student protesters from his school and nearby George Washington University. "[Frist] has a very positive public image, people admire him, but at the same time behind closed doors he's backtracking on promises he made last year because of White House pressure," said Barry.
03.07.03; Amber McDowell
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.