For Immediate Release
AIDS Activists Take Over Capitol Rotunda to Demand Action on AIDS From Obama and Congress
AIDS Activists Risk Arrest in Capitol Building Demanding Promised Funding & Policy Changes
WASHINGTON - Dozens of AIDS activists from across the Northeast
U.S. risked arrest today, staging a loud demonstration inside the
Capitol Rotunda on the eve of key Congressional votes on
appropriations for life-saving programs and one day before President
Obama’s first trip to Africa since his election.
The activists decried the Obama administration’s failure to make good
on a range of AIDS campaign promises including his pledge: to lift the
federal ban on funding syringe exchange, to fully fund lifesaving
global AIDS programs, and to fully fund AIDS housing programs in this
year’s budget. The activists demanded Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Congressional leadership fix
President Obama’s flawed budget proposal.
“HIV is not in recession,” said Omolola Adele-Oso of DC Fights Back.
“So why are we bailing out the bankers with $9 trillion, but breaking
promises to fund life-saving AIDS programs in the US and around the
world at a fraction of that cost?”
Activists noted that despite campaign pledges to increase bilateral
global AIDS (PEPFAR) funding by $1 billion a year and fully fund the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Administration’s budget
proposal essentially flat-lines global AIDS funding. Unless President
Obama and Congress keep their promise to fund their fair share of the
Global Fund’s needed, for example, the Global Fund will have to cut
billions of dollars worth of life saving grants.
The activists also denounced the administration’s failure to lift the
ban on syringe exchange funding. “Thousands of people have died in the
past decade because clean syringes aren’t available,” said Jose De
Marco, an HIV+ member of ACT UP Philadelphia and Proyecto Sol
Filadelphia. “President Obama, who many of us worked to elect,
promised to follow the science and lift the federal funding ban on
needle exchange, but his budget explicitly included the ban. Now it’s
up to Congress to show real courage where the President has not.”
“We are here because we know that our friends, families, and
communities are still dying,” said Larry Bryant of Housing Works.
“From DC to California to Zambia people living with AIDS need Congress
to act this week and need the administration to make good on its
Gustavo Pedroza, of the New York City AIDS Housing Network commented:
"Housing is one of our most basic needs and a critical part of HIV
treatment, care and prevention - without it, other strategies to fight
HIV simply don't work. Given the rising cost of housing, President
Obama's proposal to flat-fund federal AIDS housing programs will mean
low-income people with HIV will lose their housing, not to mention
longer waiting lists for a life-saving home."