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Video: AIDS Activists Occupy Mississippi Statehouse Grounds, Protesting Conditions for People With HIV

By Julie Turkewitz

April 1, 2011

Versher flying through the air.

Above: Versher flying through the air. Below: Speaking to Fox 40. Photos by Julie Turkewitz for Housing Works.

Speaking to Fox 40.

Jackson, Miss. -- Activists from AIDS Action in Mississippi (AAIM) staged a civil disobedience protest on the grounds of the Mississippi statehouse today. The action was intended to call attention to the dismal state of AIDS services in Mississippi, demand a statewide AIDS strategy, and confront AIDS stigma.

See video.
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At 9 a.m., the activists erected an 18-foot tripod on the south side of the statehouse. One of them, Luke Versher, climbed the structure and ignored police requests to come down.

Versher, an AAIM field organizer, has been living with HIV for 23 years. "State government has no strategy to combat AIDS but lots of policies that reinforce AIDS stigma," he said. "I'm here to show people with HIV don't need to hide."

In 2010, the Obama administration released the nation's first HIV/AIDS strategy and asked states to create their own. AAIM demands that the Mississippi government develop an AIDS strategy that includes scientifically proven comprehensive sex education; health care for low-income Mississippians with HIV/AIDS; and funding for housing for low-income people living with the virus.

Three weeks ago, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about the conditions for people with HIV in the Mississippi. Among its many findings:

This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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