"Stand Against AIDS" Roadtrip and March in September Will Demand National AIDS Strategy From Next President
Eight Cross-Country Activist Caravans Headed to September 26 Presidential Debate in Oxford, Mississippi; "Walking" Caravaners to March 172 Miles From Jackson to Oxford
August 13, 2008
Eight separate activist caravans will travel from all parts of the country to Mississippi in September to demand that the next U.S. president take significant steps toward creating a National AIDS Strategy within 100 days of taking office. The multi-arm cross-country trip and march, called the Stand Against AIDS, is being spearheaded by the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA), a national network of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Beginning mid-September, hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS will travel in eight different automotive caravans from around the country and one "walking" caravan (from Jackson to Oxford) to build support for C2EA's National AIDS Strategy demand. The activists will converge in Oxford, Mississippi, on September 23, 2008, for three days of action leading up to the first presidential debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain on September 26. Itineraries for the caravans will be announced later in August.
"For eight years of the Bush presidency, we've endured inadequate domestic AIDS funding and attacks on science-based HIV prevention, and the results have been devastating, especially in the South. Obama and McCain need to show that stopping the AIDS epidemic is a priority by getting a National AIDS Strategy in motion within 100 days of taking office," said Larry Bryant, National Spokesperson for the Stand Against AIDS.
Sen. Obama has already agreed to create a National AIDS Strategy, though he has not given a timeframe. Sen. McCain has not announced an AIDS plan. Through September's Stand Against AIDS, the Campaign to End AIDS is demanding that within the first 100 days of taking office, the next U.S. president initiate work on a National AIDS Strategy that will:
Mississippi chapters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP have endorsed the Stand Against AIDS, as has civil rights legend James Meredith. Meredith's own courageous march from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson galvanized the black vote in Mississippi in 1966. "We'll discuss AIDS in Africa, but not in America. For the past five, ten years, you would think that no one in America has AIDS," Meredith says, adding "If the Campaign to End AIDS is successful, it will change everything."
The U.S. requires that foreign countries which receive U.S. taxpayer dollars for fighting AIDS create strategic national plans, but the U.S. itself does not have one. The uncoordinated, patchwork response to AIDS in the U.S. has failed to halt the epidemic; yearly new infections in the U.S. have not decreased in more than a decade. The black community has been disproportionately affected: African Americans make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly half of all Americans living with HIV/AIDS.
Mississippi partners of the Stand Against AIDS include James Meredith, former State Congressman Eric Fleming, Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, ACLU (MS), NAACP (MS), Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 100 Black Men, Holy City Church of God and Christ, 100 Concerned Clergy for a Better Jackson. Partners outside Mississippi include: Afiya Center (TX), Positive Vegas, Street Works (TN), AIDS Foundation Chicago, TPAN (Chicago), National Association of People With AIDS, AIDS Action, AIDS Network of Madison (WI), Minnesota AIDS Project AIDS Institute, Housing Works, NYCAHN, SisterLove (GA), DC Fights Back, ACCESS (VA), National AIDS Housing Coalition.
About the Campaign to End AIDS: We are a national network of people living with HIV/AIDS who believe the tools exist to end the epidemic and that U.S leaders need to exert the political will to do so. The Campaign has four demands: full funding for treatment and support services for all people living with HIV; ramped-up science-based HIV prevention at home and abroad; increased funding to research a cure, effective treatments and prevention tools; and an end to AIDS stigma and protected civil rights for all people with HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit C2EA.org.
About the Stand Against AIDS: Activist caravans will depart from eight different cities around the country and will each travel hundreds of miles through states in every region of the country. A diverse group of Americans, many of them living with HIV/AIDS will participate in the caravans, reaching out to the public in small towns and cities along the way to talk about the need for a National AIDS Strategy. All of the caravans will end in Oxford, Mississippi, on September 23, where they will be met by marchers who walked from Jackson, Mississippi. The activists will engage in three days of events in Oxford starting on September 23 and culminating with the September 26 presidential debate.
This article was provided by Housing Works. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.