For Immediate Release
AIDS Activists to Obama and Fenty: Your Decisions are Failing People Living with HIV: "Funeral” Staged at White House, Creative Action At DC’s City Hall: 12 noon Assembly at Lafayette Park
WASHINGTON - On World AIDS Day, December 1 2009, AIDS activists gathered in front of
the White House and then marched to DC’s Wilson Building with a clear
message for President Obama and Mayor Fenty: “maintain the current,
flawed course and millions will die—or fix the system and they will
In front of the White House the activists staged a funeral procession,
presided over by Rev. Jeffrey Jordan of Philadelphia and Rev. Carolyn
Boyd of Washington, DC. The somber funeral revealed the human impact of
President Obama’s planned flat-lining of global AIDS funding in next
year’s budget. Without promised funding increases, thousands will be
denied access to AIDS treatment. According to a recent WHO report, HIV
is now the number one killer of women of reproductive age worldwide.
Global AIDS groups on Monday gave President Obama a “D+ ” having failed
to deliver new funding promised when he was running for President reportavailable at http://www.africaaction.org/resources/docs/WADreportcard.pdf).
Activists then marched to the John A. Wilson Building, seat of the DC
government, to demand action from the Mayor and City Council. In a
creative display of street theater, the group demonstrated how deeply
the health system is failing people living with HIV in the District of
Columbia. Local AIDS activists say that while progress has been made
under Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration Dr. Shannon Hader, the
Fenty Administration still lacks a plan turn the tide of the epidemic
and has made insufficient progress in correcting the impact of years of
neglect. For example, neither the District nor the federal Department
of Housing and Urban Development have a plan to house the hundreds of
homeless people who are currently sick with complications from AIDS and
who have languished on a waiting list for years while funding was
Jose De Marco of ACT UP Philadelphia and Health GAP stated:
"Many of us around the world living with HIV had the highest of hopes
for President Obama when he promised major new funding for global AIDS.
In this year's budget he didn't include that funding. Money for bankers
and war gets priority, but we can't put one half of one percent of that
into lives and communities hanging in the balance in Africa, Asia, and
Larry Bryant, co-chair of DC Fights Back said: "We keep hearing
about ‘wake-up calls’—as our city leaders are ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’
at the severity of our epidemic and poor use of funds. But how many
wake up calls do we need to see the system is failing? Where is the
emergency plan to address the full breadth of the epidemic and where
are the city funds to house the hundreds of homeless people living with
AIDS languishing on waiting lists for years?"
Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action stated:
"Already, we are hearing of reports that in several countries in Africa
the waiting lists are growing and clinics being forced to turn away
patients due to lack of promised funding. As the continent of Africa is
beginning to see results in the fight against its biggest killer, it
would be disastrous for the U.S. to abandon its promise to continue
expanding its support to human rights and Universal Access to
treatment, care and prevention."
The event was sponsored by: DC Fights Back, ACT UP Philadelphia, the
Campaign to End AIDS, Health GAP, Women's Collective; START at
Westminster, National AIDS Housing Coalition, Metropolitan Washington
Public Health Association, Housing Works, Universal Fellowship of
Metropolitan Community Churches, Positive Places and Women of Color
United, and Africa Action.
Africa Action is a national organization that works for political, economic and social justice in Africa. Through the provision of accessible information and analysis combined with the mobilization of public pressure we work to change the policies and policy-making processes of U.S. and multinational institutions toward Africa. The work of Africa Action is grounded in the history and purpose of its predecessor organizations, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), The Africa Fund, and the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), which have fought for freedom and justice in Africa since 1953. Continuing this tradition, Africa Action seeks to re-shape U.S. policy toward African countries.