Reply to "AIDS turns 20"


Last week, senior White House officials, in a meeting with AIDS activists, made it plain that President Bush is going to insist on underfunding the fight against global AIDS until disproven or
underesourced programs have delivered the results they are unable to produce. The childish banality of the Administration is would be laughable, if there were not 100 million lives hanging in the balance.

At the same time, the Bush administration assualts AIDS organizations serving communities of color, youth and gay men with vicious audits
and intimidation tactics. Federal AIDS drug programs continue to be starved by the Bush Administration, and the Early Treatment Act for
HIV gathers dust on the shelf, requiring people with AIDS in the United States to spend themselves into poverty or wait until they are
very sick to qualify for health care and medicine.

*** If it was not already abundantly clear, simply asking the White House is not going to work. We must join to our voices and power to
change this deadly equation ***

On Tuesday November 26, an extremely diverse angry crowd of at least 4-500 people with AIDS and their supporters are paying a visit to the
Bush Administration in Washington DC. This is a two days before Thanksgiving, and timed so as not to conflict with other December 1-World AIDS Day remembrances.

The message will be similar to that delivered in Barcelona: a limited and specific number of crucial global and domestic AIDS issues.

1. Funding and personnel as needed to implement a plan to treat three million PWHIV worldwide by 2005, including comprehensive care services and significant increases in contributions to the Global Fund.

2. Debt cancellation for the poorest countries, freeing up new funds for locally directed health and education spending.

3. Passage of the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) which extends Medicaid coverage to perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with HIV in the US who are not yet poor and sick enough to qualify for medication.

4. Increases in ADAP funding to get AIDS medicines to people with AIDS in the US currently on waiting lists because the Bush budget has
not kept pace with the growing epidemic at home.

5. Science-based HIV prevention at home and internationally, supporting the lives of vulnerable people, instead of budget cuts and
audits targeting agencies serving that women, people of color, gays and lesbians, youth and drug users.

Why are you getting this message?

Because the movement has stated for years a wish to reinvigorate a strong grassroots presence. Because asking nice is not working.
Because the history of social movements in the United States demonstrate that the voices of advocates at the table are taken far more seriously if they are speaking in concert with a mobilized and aggressive constituency.

Because we need help.

A few of us have talked about raising the profile of the World AIDS Day action being currently coming together.

The dire urgency of our current situation and the Administration's intractable refusal to take leadership on AIDS requires us all to raise the ante on the President. For this action to make more of a splash than our previous numerous actions, we are asking that the executive directors and staff of AIDS and global advocacy groups join us in an act of peaceful civil disobedience.

We need help with media support. We need help with funding to help pay for busloads of demonstrators. We need help your help marshalling
our notable supporters and senior staff to make a peaceful civil disobedience action as high profile as possible. This event will be safe for non-CD participants, with ample marshaling and legal support. Any CD participants will of course be offered CD training. The precise nature of the CD scenario will be developed by the participants.

1. If your schedule and legal history permits, we want you to take part in a non-violent civil disobedience demanding presidential action on global and domestic AIDS treatment and prevention. As a rule, you will be released within a few hours, with no legal ramification and no ensuing court cases. There are never any
promises, of course.

2. We need you to help contact any notable people they you think might participate with us in this act of civil disobedience. Please help complete the list below with your contacts.

3. We need your media staff to support this action. With help from your organization, we can make a powerful event that becomes _the_
national World AIDS Day story.

4. The cost of transporting 8-16 busloads of demonstrators to support the CD group from Philadelphia, New York and beyond will cost
approximately $1200 / bus, plus other expenses that arise from a major mobilization. The largest grassroots group in the sponsoring coalition currently has a significant debt to its members. In other words, ACT UP Philadelphia has _no_ money to pay for this.

5. TURN OUT: if your organization has staff or members or clients anywhere in the mid-Atlantic region BRING THEM OUT. As you know, politics is about power, and the power we have on our side is
significant numbers of motivated people. As many have noted, the US AIDS movement has become atrophied from a lack of exercise. Its not
difficult to mobilize large numbers of staff and clients, if the organization provides transportation, and all staff are given extensive and explicit executive support. Clear messages from agency leadership are necessary to inspire the community to act. We must provide the vehicle through which people with AIDS can recognize
personal capacity to powerfully influence political struggles. We must make clear to our staff and members our obligation to check the
negligence of the government we bear responsibility for.

If you or your organization are able to help in any way with media, funding, turnout, or CD participants, please contact Paul Davis at: / 215.833.4102

For groups in NYC, contact Sharonann Lynch at:
/ Tel: 212-674-9598.