WASHINGTON -- February 25 -- This Saturday, February 26, young people from across the country will march in Washington, DC to commemorate the first annual Youth AIDS Day by demanding immediate action from world leaders.
"Our generation is suffering from a crisis that infects 8,000 young people under age 25 everyday, and the promises made so far are not enough," said Anna Bergdall, a student at Luther College in Iowa who is traveling almost 1,000 miles for the march. "We can't wait any longer while politicians sort through limited budget accounts and overloaded appropriations bills. HIV/AIDS isn't an accounting issue; it's a moral crisis."
Marchers gather at 11 AM for a rally at Lafayette Park, where speakers include civil rights pioneer Bernice Johnson Reagon and HIV-positive activist Eric Sawyer, co-founder of Act Up New York. While diverse, the group of speakers and marchers is united in its
demands: that the US government forgive all debts owed by impoverished countries, pay its share of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, fund the domestic fight, abstain from abstinence-based sex education programs, and support healthcare access.
The Student March Against AIDS is the largest of many Youth AIDS Day events. On Sunday in DC students hold the Youth Summit to End Global AIDS, and on Monday they take their demands to Congress. Meanwhile, events worldwide range from a celebration in Egypt encouraging youth to conquer HIV/AIDS stigma, to a videoconference between Ugandan and Canadian university students.
"This is just the beginning of an explosion in student and youth mobilization-one that will force our nation's and our world's leaders to take immediate action to stop this pandemic," said Healy Thompson, National Coordinator of Student Global AIDS Campaign. "We will be the generation that sees an end to AIDS."
The Student March Against AIDS is organized by Student Global AIDS Campaign along with Advocates for Youth, Africa Action, and others. The Student Global AIDS Campaign-on the web at fightglobalaids.org-is a project of Global Justice, a non-profit organization that works to build a movement of young people in the US, in partnership with youth internationally, to promote global justice and responsibility.