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AIDS demo in DC draws over 500

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Over 500 people marched in DC today to demand funding for AIDS treatment instead of funding for war. Thirty-one activists were arrested for lying down in front of the White House.

Over 500 people marched in DC today to demand funding for AIDS treatment instead of funding for war. Thirty-one activists were arrested for lying down in front of the White House.

The demonstration, organized by Health GAP (Global Access Project) and ACT-UP, drew attention to the Bush administration’s lack of initiative to combat the AIDS epidemic. Currently, 40 million people have AIDS, with that number expected to grow to 100 million by the year 2010. Most people with AIDS are too poor to afford the prices charged by US pharmaceuticals for lifesaving AIDS medications.

“Donate the dollars, treat the people, drop the debt now!â€

Protesters started with a rally at McPhearson Square. There, Sheila Kabuka spoke about the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa and asked that Bush not visit Africa unless he comes with a plan to deal with the disease. She said that $27 million people in Africa are infected and another 70 million people have died of AIDS, while only 30 thousand people are receiving treatment. Kabula also told the crowd of protesters and passersby that, added together, African countries pay more on their debt than they do on health and education com-----------------7d217c38a03f2

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Over 500 people marched in DC today to demand funding for AIDS treatment instead of funding for war. Thirty-one activists were arrested for lying down in front of the White House.

Over 500 people marched in DC today to demand funding for AIDS treatment instead of funding for war. Thirty-one activists were arrested for lying down in front of the White House.

The demonstration, organized by Health GAP (Global Access Project) and ACT-UP, drew attention to the Bush administration’s lack of initiative to combat the AIDS epidemic. Currently, 40 million people have AIDS, with that number expected to grow to 100 million by the year 2010. Most people with AIDS are too poor to afford the prices charged by US pharmaceuticals for lifesaving AIDS medications.

“Donate the dollars, treat the people, drop the debt now!â€

Protesters started with a rally at McPhearson Square. There, Sheila Kabuka spoke about the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa and asked that Bush not visit Africa unless he comes with a plan to deal with the disease. She said that $27 million people in Africa are infected and another 70 million people have died of AIDS, while only 30 thousand people are receiving treatment. Kabula also told the crowd of protesters and passersby that, added together, African countries pay more on their debt than they do on health and education combined.

“We know that America has the political and economic power to turn the tide…and we are pleading with Bush not to go to Africa if he has nothing to offer…you don’t go to mourning empty-handed.†Kabuka pointed out that in Africa it is the custom, when visiting a house where the family is in mourning, for the women to bring baskets with food and the men to bring envelopes with money. “We don’t want to hear the drumbeats of war in Africa, we have a war of another sort. We want the drums of peace.â€

Protesters then marched to Lafayette Square while chanting “Global AIDS is the threat, prevention, treatment, drop the debt,†“We need billions, 2.5, to save 40 million lives,†and “Bush Jr. Bush Sr., which one dealt with AIDS, neither.†They carried black “body bags†to symbolize those who have died from AIDS.

At Lafayette Square, one speaker talked about how President Bush had killed a bill that would have provided AIDS funding by calling its sponsor, Senator Frisk, and asking the senator to withdraw it because he was going to introduce his own bill. The next day the President announced a bill that only provided $300 million over 3 years and restricted the money to preventing transmission from mother to child.

Sally Booker, with Action Africa, said “We are here because we know what the real code red is—it’s the global AIDS pandemic….In twenty years people will ask—as they asked about the holocaust and the genocide bined.

“We know that America has the political and economic power to turn the tide…and we are pleading with Bush not to go to Africa if he has nothing to offer…you don’t go to mourning empty-handed.†Kabuka pointed out that in Africa it is the custom, when visiting a house where the family is in mourning, for the women to bring baskets with food and the men to bring envelopes with money. “We don’t want to hear the drumbeats of war in Africa, we have a war of another sort. We want the drums of peace.â€

Protesters then marched to Lafayette Square while chanting “Global AIDS is the threat, prevention, treatment, drop the debt,†“We need billions, 2.5, to save 40 million lives,†and “Bush Jr. Bush Sr., which one dealt with AIDS, neither.†They carried black “body bags†to symbolize those who have died from AIDS.

At Lafayette Square, one speaker talked about how President Bush had killed a bill that would have provided AIDS funding by calling its sponsor, Senator Frisk, and asking the senator to withdraw it because he was going to introduce his own bill. The next day the President announced a bill that only provided $300 million over 3 years and restricted the money to preventing transmission from mother to child.

Sally Booker, with Action Africa, said “We are here because we know what the real code red is—it’s the global AIDS pandemic….In twenty years people will ask—as they asked about the holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda—how could the US know and do nothing?†Booker’s answer was that the US doesn’t act because most people in the world who have AIDS are black, because the US government wants to protect the pharmaceutical companies, and because we live in a world of global apartied—black from white, rich from poor, and powerful from powerless.

A diverse group of 31 protesters then crossed to in front of the White House to “deliver a message to our President.†The group sat down, covered themselves with a banner stating “AIDS: A Code Red Emergency. We Demand Billions to Save Lives Now,†and locked together with a metal chain. Slowly, police handcuffed each demonstrator and brought them to the waiting vans. Many were dragged along the ground, with one woman dragged into the van facedown.

An organizer said that 14 busloads of people attended the demonstration, with about 50 people on each bus. That would mean about 700 people came to the demonstration from out-of-town.

Here are Health GAP’s demands:

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 oin Rwanda—how could the US know and do nothing?†Booker’s answer was that the US doesn’t act because most people in the world who have AIDS are black, because the US government wants to protect the pharmaceutical companies, and because we live in a world of global apartied—black from white, rich from poor, and powerful from powerless.

A diverse group of 31 protesters then crossed to in front of the White House to “deliver a message to our President.†The group sat down, covered themselves with a banner stating “AIDS: A Code Red Emergency. We Demand Billions to Save Lives Now,†and locked together with a metal chain. Slowly, police handcuffed each demonstrator and brought them to the waiting vans. Many were dragged along the ground, with one woman dragged into the van facedown.

An organizer said that 14 busloads of people attended the demonstration, with about 50 people on each bus. That would mean about 700 people came to the demonstration from out-of-town.

Here are Health GAP’s demands:

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.

www.healthgap.org/WAD.html

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