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Press Release

Equality to End AIDS: HIV/AIDS Rally and Vigil This Saturday Answers White House Call to Action

"Young LGBT People Attending the National Equality March Need to Continue the Fight Against HIV/AIDS," Says Cleve Jones

October 5, 2009

As tens of thousands of LGBT Americans and their allies converge on Washington next month to march for equal rights, they also will remind the nation and the LGBT community that the AIDS epidemic is not over as well as remember the more than half a million Americans who have died from the disease.

The Equality To End AIDS rally and vigil will take place Saturday, October 10, the day before the massive Equality March. Equality To End AIDS will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 pm on the Ellipse, in front of the White House, and feature an inspiring roster of speakers and performers (most of whom are HIV-positive), culminating in a candlelight vigil. The rally and vigil come just a week after the Obama administration released a "call to action" on HIV that solicits public input on a first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

"The weekend is about achieving full equality for LGBT Americans. We need to use that political power to remind the country that the AIDS epidemic continues. A great many young people will attend the march; we need them to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Cleve Jones, the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and one of the National Equality March organizers.

Gay and bisexual men are now 50 times more likely to acquire HIV than those who are not gay or bisexual. Among young gay men, HIV infections increased an astonishing 12% each year from 2001 to 2006; the only demographic group to see an increase in infections during that period. Even though treatments have extended life for many people with HIV, recent research indicates that, on average, people with HIV live 21 years less than their HIV-negative counterparts.

"Many of our most energized LGBT activists are too young to remember the devastating impact AIDS has had on the gay community. We must re-engage the larger LGBT community in AIDS activism," said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works, which is the fiscal sponsor of the rally and vigil. "Ending the HIV pandemic is an issue of justice that must be their fight as well."

Speakers and entertainers at the rally will include singer/actress Sherri Lewis, Broadway actress and former Miss America Kate Shindle, members of the Diva League (as seen on America's Got Talent) and Inner Light Ministries Choir, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, San Francisco Human Rights Commission Chairperson Cecilia Chung, Shawn Decker's Synthetic Division, poet Brandon Plain, gospel rap artist Desencé, singer/songwriter Dudley Sanders, POZ Magazine founder Sean Strub, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Bishop Rainey Cheeks and DJ Stone. Many of the speakers and performers are people living with HIV.

Who: Equality to End AIDS is organized by The Campaign to End AIDS and sponsored by Housing Works, Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS, Westminster Presbyterian Church, More Light Presbyterians, OD/More Light Presbyterians, Advocates For Youth, AIDS Action, The Human Rights Campaign, POZ magazine (media sponsor), partnered with The Afiya Center, Bailey House, , CAEAR Foundation, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), Connecticut AIDS Residence Coalition (CARC) , D.C. Fights Back, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Health GAP, Inner Light Ministries, Metropolitan Community Church, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), SisterLove, Southern AIDS Coalition and endorsed by ACT UP Philadelphia, AIDS Action in Mississippi (AAIM), International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC), Lifebeat, New York City AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN), Positive Advocacy Caucus.

What: Equality To End AIDS HIV/AIDS Rally and Vigil at National Equality March.

Where: The Ellipse (by the White House) 17th Street NW & Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC

When: October 10, 5:30 to 8:30pm

Media Contact: Diana Scholl; 917-402-2576/
Organizer Contact: Christine Campbell; 202-409-9786/

Editors' Note: This article has been updated since its initial release on Sept. 21, 2009.

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This article was provided by Housing Works. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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