Scientists Make Immune Cells in Mice That Fight Off HIV

Business Week: "'It's a one-shot treatment if it works,' noted study co-author Paula Cannon, associate professor of molecular microbiology at the University of Southern California."

Comment: The Berlin mouse? No radiation or chemotherapy needed.

Technical abstract:

Medical Marijuana in HIV/AIDS – Part 2: Science Is Mostly Positive On Medical Marijuana For People With HIV

The AIDS Beacon: "Kris Hermes, Media Specialist for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization that promotes legalization of medical marijuana, told The AIDS Beacon in an interview that there are a variety of reasons people with HIV use medical marijuana.

“One main reason is relief of side effects from antiretroviral therapy,” said Hermes, “which can make patients better at taking their medications.”

“Many users also say it helps reduce symptoms from other illnesses, such as hepatitis C, that are common in people with HIV,” he added."

Press Coverage of Housing Action

So far, we've found a bit of coverage of our action yesterday. But we know more is out there! So if you come across anything, please let us know in the comments.

Photos from today's action

ACT UP report released! Dying for Homes: How Mayor Nutter is wasting city money and failing people with AIDS

Hot off the presses! Download it here.


Providing supportive housing for people living with AIDS, regardless of substance abuse or mental illness, is a cost-effective, life-saving program. The Mayor has instead chosen to spend our money on unsafe, unsustainable shelter systems, on emergency room visits, and in the case of at least eight Philadelphians in the past eighteen months, funerals. Access to safe, permanent housing is a vital component of HIV/AIDS treatment and care. By relying on the shelter system instead of funding a functional supporting housing program for people with AIDS, the mayor has failed on HIV treatment and HIV prevention.

Economy Wreaks Havoc on Federal AIDS Drug Program - June 30, 2010 "The weak economy is ravaging the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to people with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them. Nearly 1,800 have been relegated to rapidly expanding waiting lists that less than three years ago had dwindled to zero.
Enlarge This Image

Michael McElroy for The New York Times

As with other safety-net programs, ballooning demand caused by persistent unemployment and loss of health insurance is being met with reductions in government resources. Without reliable access to the medications, which cost individuals in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program an average of $12,000 a year, people with H.I.V. are more likely to develop full-blown AIDS, transmit the virus and require expensive hospitalizations."

Today at City Hall

None of my photos shows the whole demo.


Today: Tell Nutter to end the AIDS housing waiting list

Please come join ACT UPtoday, Wednesday June 30th, to participate in a crucial demonstration as we tell Mayor Nutter that he is FAILING people with AIDS who are in desperate need of housing.

WHAT: ACT UP press conference and demonstration to demand city funding for housing for people with AIDS, including presenting the Mayor with a failing report and report card.

WHEN: TODAY, June 30th at 1pm

WHERE: West side entrance of City Hall

WHY: Because there are over 200 individuals/families in Philadelphia on the City's AIDS housing wait list (with hundreds and thousands more trying to get on the list) who each are waiting at least 2 years on the list. And while people with AIDS are literally DYING on the list waiting for housing, the City gives ZERO dollars to decrease and end this list. Housing is clearly one of the most overlooked needs for people with AIDS in Philadelphia, and our City and the Mayor is doing next to nothing about it.

So we need to let Mayor Nutter know that he is failing on HIV treatment and prevention, and wasting city money by funding shelters instead of real housing for people with AIDS.ACT UPand people with HIV and AIDS in Philadelphia need your support!

We hope to see you there.


Medical Marijuana In HIV/AIDS – Part 1: Legal Support For Medical Marijuana Use Gains Steam

The AIDS Beacon

"Legal support for the use of medical marijuana, including by people with HIV/AIDS, has been a growing trend nationwide. Laws are not uniform and have often been the source of contentious debate; however, an increasing number of states have passed or are considering laws to legalize the drug for medical purposes.

"The most recent advance on the medical marijuana front is in Washington, D.C., whose city council voted last month in favor of legislation to legalize medical marijuana in the district. The bill will allow access to the drug for those with serious illnesses, including HIV infection.

"Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill on May 21, sending it to Congress for a mandatory review period (expected to end July 23) before becoming law."

Take Action at the US Social Forum!

Thursday, June 24, 2010
9:00 p.m.

2010 USSF Forum
COBO Hall, Plenary Session


AIDS is still a crisis from Detroit to Dakar

Detroit, MI: People living with HIV/AIDS, Health GAP, ACT-UP Philadelphia, Philadelphia Global AIDS Watch Dogs (G A W D), NYC AIDS Housing Network/VOCAL, Gender JUST, Youth United For Change and other supporters will hold a die in at the 2010 United States Social Forum (USSF).

There are currently 33 million people living with HIV around the world, of that number about 13 million need immediate access to lifesaving AIDS medications in order to survive. Yet, less than 4 million people around the world have access to AIDS treatment. Recent studies have shown that access to HIV treatment is 93% effective in preventing the spread of HIV.

However, the United States and other wealthy countries have dramatically reduced their commitments to providing funding for universal access to treatment-despite global promises. The protest will happen on the week before the G20 meeting in Canada.

The global AIDS movement was born out of the civil rights movement of the late 1960's, the DE-institutionalization movement and gay liberation movement of the 1970's and the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980's. With the very direct root causes of AIDS-poverty, racism and homophobia- driving the epidemic, AIDS activists easily work across issue areas to survive. However, the USSF has illustrated how marginalized AIDS organizing remains even among the most progressive groups in the country. At the World Social Forum in Dakar in February of 2011, African activists will highlight how the AIDS crisis has ravaged their communities. It is necessary for those of us in the United States to get involved in the fight against global AIDS.

The AIDS Activist People's Movement Assembly is holding a die-in at the global economy plenary to increase visibility to this cross cutting issue. “If you are working on immigrant rights, you are fighting for people living with AIDS who come to the United States seeking
treatment. If you are working on housing rights, you are fighting for people with AIDS who die needlessly on the streets and in substandard shelters. If you are working on fighting global corporate power, you are fighting along side people living with AIDS who face powerful corporations who would rather see millions of people die, then relinquish a small portion of their enormous profits.”, said Yetta Smith, a member of ACT UP Philadelphia and a graduate of Health GAP's IMPACT project.

“AIDS needs to be addressed by all of us at this conference. It is not the sole responsibility of people living with AIDS to carry the burden of this fight for survival. We all must join the struggle.” said Charles Long of the NYC AIDS Housing Network/VOCAL.

The AIDS activists are asking USSF participants to join them for a condom conga line at the Leftist Lounge on Friday night to show support for the AIDS movement and to sign a petition calling for full funding for the global AIDS fight to President Obama.

For more information, go to, or!

Sign Petitions to Support AIDS Housing and HIV Prevention in Philly!

Take a short moment and go to the following links to sign two important petitions started by ACT UP Philly members on

HIV Prevention:

AIDS Housing:

Where Will the Money Come From?

Here's one place:

Whenever we tell people in power what we need to fight the AIDS epidemic (whether it be medication, housing, culturally appropriate prevention, etc) we're always told, "Where will the money come from?"

Each million dollars buys about 4 minutes of these wars, which make us much less safe, not more. $15 million dollars an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And these counters don't yet even include the "surge" (as of June 2010) -- let alone taking care of U.S. casualties for the rest of their lives.

Yet there's been a mostly successful campaign to take the wars "off the table" from budget discussions, as if the wars were God-given, not Bush-given. That's because hundreds of billions of dollars buys a lot of influence to keep the money train going.


PS: We also need the "currency transaction levy (CTL). Essentially, it's a tiny tax on currency that's traded by big banks. This insignificant tax would raise $33 billion a year, and wouldn't impact the market." See A Tiny Tax on the Big Banks, Huge Change for the World.

New video by ACT UP member Yetta

yetta act up video from jay smith on Vimeo.

Love ACT UP? Please help

Dear Friend of ACT UP -

We know you love ACT UP Philadelphia. We've been here for 23 years, standing up for people with HIV in Philadelphia and around the world. We've won amazing victories by organizing people with HIV to fight back and demand the life-saving programs and medicine we need. We have never accepted a dime from drug companies or the government because we know it would influence our advocacy. We take on campaigns that other organizations can't because of funding restrictions. Right now, we're working on three major campaigns to increase access to services for people living with and at risk of HIV. For more information on our campaigns, please read at the bottom of the email.

The bottom line is that right now, we are in a bind. Our largest funder has had to delay grant cycles by a few months and we have next to no money in the bank. Please make a donation to help us get through this tough period so that we may keep the lights on and the powerful organizing going. You can make your donation easily online through our website - - by clicking on the paypal link. Or, you can mail a check to ACT UP Philadelphia, PO Box 22439, Land Title Station, Philadelphia, PA 19110.

Your donation matters! We have a lot going on in the next few months. We're hoping to send a delegation to the US Social Forum, to network and learn from other brilliant activists from across the US. We are planning a major action to tell our Mayor that the city must end the 183 person AIDS housing waiting list.

In addition, we are reaching out to new people and growing our group. Our meeting size has nearly doubled in the last year. Many of our new members are low-income and they need tokens to get to meetings. We like to provide a light dinner so people can make it through our weekly meetings without getting hungry.

All of these things cost money - money we simply don't have right now. Please, reach into your pockets and donate to us. We wouldn't ask, except that it's a crisis now. We will not be able to do the things we need to do unless we raise $1000 by the end of June. If your organization can donate, we can send you an invoice. Email if you need one.

What your donation will support:
- $30 - food for a meeting with 25 members
- $50 - tokens for two meetings
- $100 - copies, signs, and fabulous props for our upcoming housing action
- $120 - travel for members of ACT UP to attend the US Social Forum
- $200 - a bus full of 57 people to attend our upcoming housing action
- $500 - all of the above, or our basic operating expenses (office rent, meeting space, phone, internet) for the next two months

Thank you for your continued support of ACT UP Philadelphia. We love you!

Roy Hayes, Kate Kozeniewski, Hannah Zellman, Jose De Marco, Waheedah Shabazz-el, Eddie Lowry, Erica Goldberg, Kaytee Riek, Asia Russell, John Barbieri, Max Ray, Paul Yabor, Paul Davis and Jen Cohn, on behalf of all of ACT UP's members

Current ACT UP campaigns:
1. Locally, we are working to end the AIDS housing waiting list. The city of Philadelphia spends no money on AIDS housing. 183 are officially on the waiting list, but the process to get on the list is so bureaucratic and complicated that there are likely hundreds more who need housing and can't get it. We've made strides, getting the city to start talking about AIDS housing. We know that council members and the Health Commissioner are talking about this, but it hasn't made it to the Mayor's desk. Our action in two weeks will make sure that the Mayor hears about this life-threatening issue.

2. State-wide, the Governor announced a $2 million cut to HIV prevention funding, in the middle of a fiscal year. This cut may be increased for next year, as the state is facing a major budget crisis. 2 weeks ago, ACT UP mobilized 200 people to protest the Governor's cuts. We are continuing our advocacy, and working with media and allies to make sure this critical issue gets resolved.

3. Nationally, ACT UP is working with other organizations to pressure the US government to keep it's promise to fund global AIDS programs. Because the US has not kept its promise, thousands of people worldwide who were promised medication are being forced onto waiting lists for AIDS treatment. They will die unless the US keeps its promise. In May, we mobilized four buses (200 people!) to travel to NYC to participate in a demonstration outside an Obama fundraiser, to hold our leaders accountable to the promises they made to us. - Top Stories : Myriad Genetics Suspends Its HIV Maturation Inhibitor Program - Top Stories : Myriad Genetics Suspends Its HIV Maturation Inhibitor Program: "Myriad Genetics announced it is suspending its HIV drug development program and will focus instead on oncology drugs. The company says it is taking this step “for strategic, business reasons; and a reduction in workforce.”

Myriad had been developing a maturation inhibitor called bevirimat (MPC-4326, PA-457) since 2009, after purchasing the rights to the drug from Panacos Pharmaceuticals."



Meet at the SW corner of Broad and Walnut Streets, outside the Bellevue Hotel (Rendell's local offices)

BACKGROUND:; $1.7 million of that is in Philadelphia alone. In the coming days, he will likely re-write the budget with EVEN MORE cuts

People with AIDS and their communities must REJECT this dangerous budget, which is balanced on the backs of poor people and people at greatest risk of HIV infection.
In addition to slashing the HIV prevention, Gov. Rendell's budget could:

. Cut funding for hospitals, education, essential social services
. Massive tax breaks to tobacco companies and big oil corporations

WHAT DO WE DO? We will be standing outside governor's Rendell's office to tell him he will make these cuts OVER OUR DEAD BODIES. Please join us at noon at the Bellvue to send him this message.

To endorse this action, if you have questions, or would like us to come speak about this to your group, please e-mail or call Waheedah at (267) 231-2647.

Smallpox demise linked to spread of HIV infection

BBC News - Smallpox demise linked to spread of HIV infection: "Experts say the vaccine used to wipe out smallpox offered some protection against the Aids virus and, now it is no longer used, HIV has flourished.
The US investigators said trials indicated the smallpox jab interferes with how well HIV multiplies.
But they say in the journal BMC Immunology it is too early to recommend smallpox vaccine for fighting HIV."

Photos from today's New York demo

ACT UP Philly tells Obama: No More Lies! Keep your AIDS Promises!

In the words of ACT UP member Cliff Williams, speaking in NYC today: "I am a member of Act up Philadelphia, PA. I am HIV+

In the spirit of empathy, I stand here before you, as an African (in descent)
American (by birth) a widower (as a husband) Who knows first hand about waiting list.


I have empathy for a people, just like me, in mental, spirit of hope, wanting to live.


Empathy to the funders Empathy to the President I fear one day I'll plead Empathy for myself,because what happens globally will soon happen hear in America.

Africa we fight for you as if our lives depend on it because it does.

Act up Fight back, Fight Aids!"

Max's rebuttal to the Philly Weekly's "Devil's Advocacy"

I'm writing my own opinions here. If other people in ACT UP have other opinions, please post them!

Way back at the beginning of the global financial crisis, Naomi Klein was on the Rachel Maddow show. At that point, she predicted that the insane, corrupt actions of U.S. and European bankers would become an excuse for the U.S. government to become even more pro-bank and pro-capital, at the expense, specifically, of poor people in Africa living with AIDS.

She was right. The United States has repeatedly used the global recession as an excuse to stop keeping their promises on global AIDS. The problem is, the recession was not just an unhappy accident. It was unfettered capitalism doing what it does best -- moving money around until it loses any meaning and just goes to making rich people richer, with no consequences to rich people when the house of cards comes crashing down.

Meanwhile, a slowed-down global economy makes it harder for people all around the world to get jobs, to afford food, to make money off of their own land, to buy medicine, to get to work and school safely, etc.

For some reason, even activists and progressive Americans seem to think that during a recession, we need to look inward and ignore the affects of our action on the rest of the world. That's wrong -- it's short-sighted and bad policy, not to mention morally bankrupt.

Here's why:

1) Fixing the problem of AIDS in Africa is an incredibly important thing to do for all of our political sakes. In Africa, AIDS is a flashpoint of the culture wars. In Uganda, President Museveni, famous for his anti-homosexuality bill, uses his AIDS work as a way to sugar-coat and promote a fundamentalist, homophobic, xenophobic agenda. He curries favor with Christians in the U.S. by pretending to fight AIDS (abstinence-based programs only of course) and then turns around and threatens his own HIV-positive citizens with death.
2) Fixing the problem of AIDS in Africa is an incredibly important thing to do for all of our health. Stopping the spread of diseases makes us all healthier. The fewer times AIDS is transmitted, the less likely it is to mutate and become resistant or more virulent or easier to spread.
3) The problem of AIDS in Africa is fixable. It takes money, which is readily available, even during the recession. The money to provide universal access to AIDS treatment could come from a) foreign governments with an obligation to stop screwing over African countries and start doing the right thing for once meeting the pledges they've already made.
b) a Currency Transaction Levy, which is a very small tax on every single currency trade (the kind of crazy speculative capitalism that screwed people with AIDS in Africa in the first place) which would raise billions and billions of dollars, even if the tax was so tiny that the big banks being assessed didn't even feel it.

The global recession is NOT a time to turn our backs on the people we have hurt the most, it's time to start holding the people who caused it accountable, and doing something to reverse the trend of the rich getting richer on the back of the poor and those infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS.


Money will go to end AIDS drug waiting lists in Africa and expand access to prevention

EVENT DETAILS: PHILADELPHIA DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE HQ, Walnut between Broad and 15th St, April 1st, 2010 at 1:30pm

PHILADELPHIA- Congressman Fattah and Senator Specter had an April Fool’s Joke played on them today. AIDS activists, dressed up as Publisher’s Clearing House officials, brought balloons, flowers and a giant check for $9 billion to their door, saying that it was the amount global AIDS programs were promised from Congress this year. Antonio Davis, one of the “Publisher’s Clearing House representatives,” chided Congress, saying “people with AIDS in developing countries aren’t going to get money to pay for life-saving medicine by hitting the jackpot. Doctors aren’t going to be able to buy the supplies they need to diagnose HIV by winning the lottery. And Congress isn’t going to come up with $9 billion by winning Publisher’s Clearing House. It’s up to Fattah and Specter, as members of the Appropriations Committees, to fight for $9 billion for global AIDS in 2011.”

According to the activists, Congress has not substantively increased funding for global AIDS in several years, and people who were promised life-saving AIDS treatment are being denied access as a result.

In 2008, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the US Global AIDS Plan. They agreed that the programs should receive $48 billion through 2013, which amounts to more than three times the initial funding levels. Around the world, clinics receiving US government funding began to enroll more people in their programs, because they believed the US government would keep its promise to fund the programs.

“Talk about a cruel joke- Promising millions of people around the world access to HIV meds and other life-saving services and then taking it all back. That is exactly what has happened,” said Philadelphia GAWD (Global AIDS Watch Dogs) founder Yetta Smith. “Congress and the President have gone back on their word to fully fund programs that fight AIDS around the world. While 70% of people worldwide lack access to HIV treatment, banks are receiving billions of dollars in bailouts. This money could be going to save millions of lives.”

The activists presented the check to local Senator Specter and Representative Fattah because they sit on the Appropriations Committee and can make sure the funding goes to the designated programs – the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. These two programs have received significant increased support from the US in the past, but because of the financial crisis, they have seen their budgets flat-line.

“PEPFAR and the Global Fund are doing important work to address the HIV epidemic in over 180 countries around the world, but their progress is hampered by broken promises. Specter and Fattah cannot sit idly by while millions die, and Congress does not increase funding,” Kaytee Riek, Director of Organizing for Health GAP, summed up.

A quick reflection on radical activism vs. "tea parties"

I just heard that "A conservative blogger posted the home address of Congressman Tom Perriello, urging tea partiers to 'drop by.'" in an email from "Organizing for America." That tactic made me stop and reflect on tactics that ACT UP has used, such as showing up at Secretary of State Clinton's home to go caroling last Christmas. Here's what seems different to me.

First of all, the addresses of anyone who makes campaign contributions are public record, so no one involved in political action at anyone's home is doing any major snooping.

But... there's a big difference between:
  • Showing up at someone's house for a set time, to do a brief, planned, coordinated, non-permanently-vandalizing action vs. encouraging people to stop by a private residence whenever they feel like it to do whatever they feel like.

  • Showing up to engage in street theater (usually campy, like caroling, covering a home with a giant condom, or creating a temporary graveyard) vs. publishing Tom Periello's private residence in a context in which other community members have already engaged in permanent vandalism and called for burning him in effigy (a tactic historically connected to lynch mobs and other extra-judicial violence)

  • Holding a politician accountable for their actions and being clear on the policy changes we want to see, vs. holding a politician accountable for (exaggerated statements about) their beliefs and at times their very existence, it seems. For example, when ACT UP New York members put a condom on Jesse Helms' house, they were protesting his staunch refusal to allow people access to condoms to protect their health. They weren't calling him out for being Christian or exaggerating his position or suggesting that elected Christians have no business holding elected office. But tea-party bloggers seem to target people by saying, "they voted for health care reform, and therefore are socialists (or worse) and therefore should not serve in American politics." That's really different than holding a protest anywhere, the message of which is, "don't vote for healthcare reform because we think it's a bad idea."

"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" (new book)

A new book by legal scholar and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander argues that although Jim Crow laws have been eliminated, the racial caste system it set up was not eradicated. It’s simply been redesigned, and now racial control functions through the criminal justice system.


Gov. Forum Thursday 7pm, Arch St. Church

Your Questions.
Their Answers.

Community Forum for the Next Governor

Thursday, February 18th
at 7pm
Arch St. United Methodist Church
55 North Broad Street
(at the corner of Broad and Arch Streets)

Come join ACT UP and many others to ask the PA Governor candidates about HIV, health care, and the issues that matter to us!!

With the Governor’s primary right around the corner, it is important for us to know where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to us – education, housing, public benefits, job development, health care, prison reentry programs, and much more. Join a broad coalition of community-based organizations, unions and advocacy projects for this important educational forum where our social and economic needs set the agenda.

We ask the questions; the candidates tell us where they stand!

For more information, call (215) 568-4990.

If you can help volunteer at the forum please come at 6pm.

TERRIBLE NEWS: "Obama to propose spending freeze"

In the State of the Union address, President Obama will apparently announce that he is freezing the federal budget, which means no increases in funding for anything except entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), the military, homeland security, and some foreign aid.

For some programs, the budget won't even keep up with inflation, so it really means cuts to spending. According to the proposal, will last for three years.

For people with HIV/AIDS, that means cuts to already underfunded programs that provide medicine, doctor's visits, housing, and support. This means no money for clean needles to prevent the spread of HIV, no new prevention programs, no new research towards cures and vaccinations and microbicides...

This budget freeze affects all Americans and is the wrong way to confront a continuing economic crisis. In my opinion it's bad economics, bad politics, and ethically wrong.

But thinking about HIV/AIDS, it's important to remember that the disease is often its own economic crisis for each individual affected, one that was made worse by the big recession but which has sucked for a long time and will suck for a long time after the rest of the economy recovers, unless we spend the money needed to fix the problem.
  • Before the "housing crisis" 1 out of every 2 people with HIV faced homelessness at some point. It's probably worse now.
  • In Philadelphia alone, the AIDS housing waiting list is 2 years long, and Section 8 housing waiting list is so long it's closed for the foreseeable future. Again, that started before the housing crisis.
  • The recession has caused states to cut funding for AIDS treatment and care, leading to people dying on waiting lists for access to AIDS medicine.
  • Many, many states are cutting their AIDS budgets dramatically, closing doors of AIDS Service Organizations that provide outreach, care, treatment, prevention, housing, food, etc.
If we don't spend more money now on programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS, and the Ryan White Care Act, issues of illness and homelessness that have only been getting worse will continue to spiral out of control. We can't sacrifice people's lives for the sake of a balanced budget. It's wrong.

It's also much more expensive in the long run: access to clean needles, medicine, and a home to live in cut rates of HIV transmission dramatically, better than any public service announcements or targeted prevention program. Letting people get sick, become more likely to spread HIV, more likely to end up in emergency rooms sick and dying, is expensive in the long run, short-sighted, and wrong.

For more coverage, was the first to leak the story.

If you agree that something must be done to stop this disaster of a budget, email actupphilly_at_gmail_dot_com to find out how you can take action. Stay tuned for updates and specific action alerts.

PS -- please forgive the ranting nature. It's late, I have a cold, and I'm very very angry.

ACT UP Lobbies Philadelphia's city council

We kicked off the action phase of our housing campaign in November with a big, boisterous caroling and rally at City Hall (well-covered by media like the Philadelphia Weekly and Philadelphia Tribune. Then you called and emailed Mayor Nutter to remind him that you care about the AIDS housing crisis and that it's his job to solve it, as the mayor of one of the cities with the biggest housing crisis.

Yesterday morning, fierce ACT UP members Cliff, Henry, Leon, John, Samantha, and Jose delivered City Councilors data about the AIDS housing needs in their specific districts, and arranged to meet with them. Apparently, it was news to many staffers just how bad the AIDS housing crisis is here in Philadelphia.

ACT UP is starting to make City Hall solve this problem -- we know it's not the money that's the problem, it's the political will.

One way you can help is to join ACT UP, every Monday night at 6pm at St. Luke's church (on 13th just north of Pine St.). Another way is to email Michael Nutter and remind him that he must solve this problem! (If that link doesn't work, try pasting this one into your browser:

We Win! Funding for Syringe Exchange, and no dumb 1000 foot rule!

In case you weren't sure that grassroots AIDS activism really worked, I can no promise you it does. This year, Congress lifted their ban on funding needle exchange programs. Here's how it went down, as far as I know:

1) Grassroots AIDS activists worked to get a President, Senators, and Representatives elected who would lift the ban.
2) They got into office and we immediately started writing, calling, protesting, opining in the media, and more, reminding them of their promises.
3) They balked.
4) We pressured. We talked to our Congresspeople, we wrote letters to the editor, we shined the media spotlight on those who were going back on their promises.
5) They balked some more.
6) We pressured some more. 26+ AIDS activists shut down the capitol building, getting arrested in the process. The media covered us.
7) Speaker Pelosi and Representative Obey had a little chat... the result: A House appropriations bill that lifted the ban on funding syringe exchange, sort of, but with a restriction that made it impossible to actually get funding.
8) We pressured some more. Phone calls, lobby visits, demonstrations, more letters to the editor... We made maps and calculated that syringe exchanges in Philly could only operate in the Schuylkill River, and in DC could only operate in Congress!
9) The Senate and the House missed their deadlines and needed to repackage their appropriations bill into one big bundle (the omnibus spending bill) and, knowing that they needed to lift the ban and do it right, managed to do it.

You can tell from the way they lifted the ban, by saying that exchanges could be located anywhere, but that public health and local law enforcements could ask them to relocate if needed, that they actually heard the voices of people who run needle exchanges and people who use them. We got those voices into their offices, in their faces, saying, "look, we know how this works and you better not mess it up." And we won. They listened. That's how activism and democracy are supposed to work.

ACT UP Op-ed follow-up to Sen. Specter's office

The following letter was sent to Sen. Specter's office in follow-up to the op-ed published in the Philly Gay News.

ACT UP feels strongly that the public option is the most realistic and effective option to expand coverage. And while we realize that the Senate bill will pass this week without a public option or Medicare expansion, we also know the process is not over yet. We call for Sen. Specter and all our representatives to do everything in their ability to push for final conference legislation that looks more like the House bill. We realize that it is politically unlikely that a public option will make it out of conference, but now is the time for progressive politicians to stand up for what is needed: a public option and Medicare expansion.

While we acknowledge that the Senate bill does include important provisions to help expand coverage (around 30 million), we are very angry that there are not enough subsidies and cost containments in the Senate bill to make sure it is affordable. Again, we push for Sen. Specter to do all he can for cost supports to be adopted from the House bill to make sure people can afford it. The most politically unpopular thing, and jeopardizing in the upcoming primary, for Sen. Specter to do is to help pass legislation that pushes people to buy health insurance that they cannot afford.

We are also angry that the Senate bill has a quasi-mandate by penalizing people for not buying health insurance. This tactic is exactly what insurance companies want: no public option for competition, and forcing people to buy poor-quality private insurance plans. We are the only country in the world that has for-profit health insurance companies, and by the very definition they will continue to have a perverse profit incentive to exclude or minimize care to poor people and people who need it. We need a federal (not state-based) public option to keep insurance companies honest, and/or we need to forbid that companies make a profit on health insurance.

ACT UP is also angry that there are other concessions in the Senate bill to big industry and interests groups at the expense of consumers and people with HIV/AIDS. In particular, the Senate bill appeases to the wishes of Big PhRMA by ensuring that they will have a monopoly on biologics (or biotech) drugs and prevent cheaper generics from being produced. This a very big deal. Biologics are the cutting edge of new research and have some of the best prospects for innovative life-saving medications, and by excluding generics it will ensure that the lives of people with HIV/AIDS and others will be rationed for the sake of profit. The Senate bill also prohibits re-importation of cheaper drugs abroad, highlighting the hypocrisy that other governments have effective ways to negotiate for cheaper life-saving drugs while ours stands by and does nothing. ACT UP knows PhRMA's lies and greed quite well. PhRMA's argument for their record profits are that it is needed for R&D. This is a lie. Major pharmaceuticals spend more on advertising than R&D; much of the R&D and clinical trials are already done by the NIH, universities and other federal agencies; and pharmaceuticals mostly just produce second generation "copycat" medications to enforce new patent rights and delay generic competition.

This time around, there was a deliberate decision made by the administration to give PhRMA, AMA, hospitals, device manufacturers, etc. a free ride and include no pressure to reduce profits and costs imposed on consumers and taxpayers. This still needs to be done in future legislation, otherwise Medicare, and the country, will go broke. And the bigger issue is the need to change fundamental incentives in our health care system, that reward more procedures and treatments, rather than rewarding and prioritizing disease prevention and keeping people healthy. A practical example of this is requiring that routine HIV tests are covered under all public and private insurance plans, as early detection is key to early treatment and preventing further transmission. The Senate bill does not address this; the House bill, on the other hand, does and it also contains greater support for other prevention programs, including the creation of a prevention and wellness trust. No matter what happens, health care reform is far from over and there is still much to be done... but for now the House bill points to the better direction in the short and long-term.

As the op-ed said, though, there are also other areas that we are continuing to look for Sen. Specter to be a real leader on fighting for HIV/AIDS programs. We look for him to fight for more funding for HIV prevention programs, and particularly for dedicated funding for syringe exchange programs now that the ban has been lifted. Syringe exchange programs have been proven to be the cheapest and most effective way to reduce HIV and Hep C transmission. We, and others around the world, also desperately look for him to pressure President Obama to fulfill his promises and fully fund PEPFAR and the Global Fund.

Specter has an opportunity to further his legacy on fighting for people with HIV/AIDS, and we will continue to fight for him to do so.


A very merry Christmas to you, Hillary Clinton!

A van full of ACT UP members went caroling at Secretary Clinton's house in Chappaqua, NY last night singing,

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better fight AIDS,
I'm telling you why:
Activists are here at your house!

Ms. Clinton was apparently home last night and couldn't miss the 50+ activists who braved the cold and snow to demand that she keep her campaign promises to fully fund the fight against global AIDS.

As a candidate, Ms. Clinton, along with then-candidate Obama, pledged $50 billion to fight global AIDS by expanding treatment and prevention efforts through PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief) and meeting the US's commitment to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria). What happened instead is that President Obama and Secretary Clinton first budget cuts funding for Global AIDS over the next several years. Under their watch, clinics in Africa have stopped taking new patients, hospitals are facing stock outs (drugs aren't available because there's no money to buy them), and lines and waiting lists for treatment are growing for the first time since PEPFAR began (under the watch of President Bush).

Secretary Clinton has a chance to fully fund the fight against global AIDS, but she must stand up now and remind President Obama and the rest of his administration that we must meet our obligations, keep our promises, and end the pandemic.

ACT UP Op-ed in Philly Gay News

Published in the Philly Gay News on Friday, Dec. 18

An open letter to Sen. Specter

Dear Sen. Arlen Specter:

In your long career in the Senate, ACT UP has brought you many gifts. Remember when we brought you a spine, asking you to stand up for people with HIV? We thought this open letter would be another nice way to remind you to keep standing up to improve healthcare, expand HIV prevention, fully fund global AIDS programs and say thanks for what you’ve done so far.

Right now, the Senate is considering healthcare reform, and you have come out in favor of a robust public option — a critical measure to address health inequalities and ensure that all people have access to health insurance and can afford basic care.

A public option is particularly meaningful for people living with HIV/AIDS. HIV is a disease that is driven by social and economic injustice and stigma. For people living with HIV/AIDS, Medicaid and Medicare are lifesaving programs that help ensure affordable access to care, but people must often wait until they’re too sick to access these programs. A public plan would mean everyone had access to HIV care and general healthcare before getting “sick enough.”

Additionally, given the discriminatory nature of private insurance companies, many people forego HIV testing in fear that they’ll be dropped from their private insurance plan. Congress must strike down all preexisting-conditions clauses in insurance plans, and they should mandate that all insurance programs cover routine testing for HIV. More than 20 percent of individuals in the U.S. infected with HIV are unaware of their infection; early diagnosis of HIV is critical to effective treatment and prevention.

As a moderate Democrat, we need you to do more than support the public option. Your colleagues, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), are holding up lifesaving healthcare reform because of their opposition to the public option. We cannot afford, in money or health, to let for-profit insurance companies continue to run our healthcare.

In addition to your support of healthcare reform, on Sunday you joined with your colleagues to pass the 2010 Appropriations Bill. For the first time in a decade, this bill allowed federal funding of syringe exchange. Your support of this important HIV and hepatitis-C prevention intervention was critical to ending the federal ban and ensuring HIV infections decline. Thank you for your support.

Now that federal funding of syringe exchange is an option, we need your help again. You sit on the Appropriations Committee, which means you can help ensure HIV-prevention programs are fully funded.

You have been a key champion in the fight against global AIDS as well. You have fought for increased funding of global AIDS programs, especially those dedicated to the training and retention of health professionals in Africa. Unfortunately, global AIDS programs have not received sufficient increases in funding, and waiting lists for AIDS medications are growing in developing countries. The world finally was starting to make progress in fighting AIDS, and ACT UP is looking to you to continue your leadership in global AIDS and fight for $9.25 billion for global AIDS programs in 2011.

Sen. Specter, you’ve done well these past few years. But, as you head into an election year, we call on you to continue to show that you are truly committed to advancing the needs of people with HIV/AIDS in Pennsylvania, the United States and around the world.

— ACT UP Philadelphia

ACT UP Philadelphia is an activist organization led by and for people living with HIV/AIDS. The group meets every Monday at 6 p.m. at The Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St. Visit for more information.

What are you doing for World AIDS Day?

There are a lot of options. You could, for example, listen to Alicia Keyes' free YouTube concert. You could go to Starbucks and buy a Product(RED) gift card. You could volunteer with an AIDS Service Organization. You could get tested. You could talk to someone about AIDS.

All of which are fine things to do. But in my view they ignore the two fundamental causes of AIDS: the HIV virus, and injustice. The way AIDS works is that you get infected by the HIV virus, and it makes you sick. Getting infected can happen to anyone, but it happens disproportionately to people who are stigmatized, poor, and disenfranchised. The solutions to preventing AIDS are political solutions. Stopping politicians from keeping clean needles out of the hands of injection drug users. Stopping politicians from keeping condoms away from prisoners and young people. Stopping politicians from criminalizing and stigmatizing homosexuality. Forcing politicians to face and solve the problem of homelessness. Forcing politicians to put people's lives ahead of drug company profits. Forcing politicians to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care. Access to treatment, housing, health care, clean needles, condoms, justice, and enfranchisement are scientifically proven to fight transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. And politicians and corporations are the main things standing in our way. The spread of AIDS is not the fault of drug users, LGBTQ people, people who have sex, or mothers. The spread of AIDS is the fault of people unwilling to spend the money or political capital to solve the problem.

The other cause of AIDS is the HIV virus. Stopping viruses requires treatment and research. Which cost money. Which brings us back to the above point.

So this World AIDS Day, in addition to buying your Product (RED) coffee, listening to Alicia Keyes, or volunteering, take time to work for the political solution.

Contact Mayor Michael Nutter and tell him a 2-year AIDS housing waiting list is unacceptable:

Contact State AIDS Director Joseph Pease and let him know that returning or not applying for nearly $15 million dollars of state funding is unacceptable:

Contact President Obama and let him know that earning a D+ on fighting AIDS is unacceptable, and that you expect him to achieve full marks next term (don't worry, he still can. He just needs your help to make this a hot political issue!)

ACT UP took action on AIDS housing yesterday. You can take action now.

Dear Friend of ACT UP,

ACT UP and Proyecto Sol are outraged that 8,000 Philadelphians with HIV/AIDS don't have access to safe, affordable housing, and that Mayor Nutter's response is to spend NOTHING on AIDS housing. We know that housing saves lives, because for people with AIDS, being out on the streets or in a shelter is deadly.

We hope you saw this awesome video of our demonstration of our outrage, made by Philadelphia Weekly reporter Joel Mathis.

Now take a few seconds to tell Mayor Nutter how you feel about the fact that in order for a person who's HIV+ in Philadelphia to get a home, they first need to get sick with two opportunistic infections, and then spend two years in shelters or on the streets! Tell him that he can change this unacceptable situation by funding AIDS housing.

In the words of the 100 chanting, bell-ringing AIDS activists, "Mayor Nutter, we insist, end AIDS housing waiting lists!"

ACT UP & Proyecto Sol
PS -- if the above links aren't working, click here or paste the link into your browser.

AIDS housing waiting lists must go!


Press Contacts: Antonio Davis 215.715.8653, Max Ray 215.908.8939



Who- Members of ACT UP Philly, Proyecto SOL and housing activists dressed as Salvation Army bell ringers, complete with santa hats, bells and buckets

What- Will be rallying at LOVE Park and marching to City Hall. The marchers will be dressed as Salvation Army bell-ringers, complete with Santa hats, bells and buckets. But instead of asking for spare change, ACT UP will be giving out zero-dollar bills to let passersby know that Mayor Nutter can make real, life-saving change for homeless Philadelphians living with AIDS by ending the 165-person AIDS housing waiting list.

When/Where- One week before World AIDS Day - Tuesday November 24 @ 12 Noon beginning in LOVE Park and marching to City Hall

Background: People with AIDS need safe, affordable housing. Shelters and streets are deadly places for people with compromised immune systems. Research indicates that housing is as important as medication in positive health outcome for people AIDS, and that people with homes are less likely to transmit HIV. Currently, there are more than 8,000 people with AIDS in Philadelphia who do not have adequate housing. That is higher than anywhere else in the country, except for Puerto Rico. There are also over 160 people and families who have been waiting for more than two years to receive housing subsidies provided through the federal government. Unlike in other cities, the city of Philadelphia does not supplement federal AIDS housing funding with city dollars. ACT UP is demonstrating to demand that Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia make housing for people with AIDS a budget priority, and find the funding to end the wait list. This demonstration will help kick off a wider campaign to win housing for all people with HIV and AIDS. World AIDS Day is December 1st each year and commemorates the lives of those who have passed away due to AIDS. This year, ACT UP Philly is getting ready to “mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living,” in the words of famous activist Mother Jones.


December 1st - World AIDS Day (WAD) – Demonstration in Washington, DC

ACT UP Philly will also be participating in a World AIDS Day action in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 1st. We will be taking a bus down to DC on Tuesday, leaving at 7:30am. Demonstrators will call for more AIDS housing funding (to help end the waiting list here in Philly and in other cities around the US), an end to the federal funding ban on syringe exchange, and increased global AIDS funding to meet global need and legislative requirement. Contact Kaytee Riek - 267.334.6984 or


Tell Pease to stop picking our pockets!

Email State AIDS Director Joseph Pease

People living with HIV and AIDS in Pennsylvania have lost more that fifteen million dollars under State AIDS Director Joseph Pease's watch. Pease's office did not apply for a four million dollar National Minority AIDS Initiative grant (because they would have had to work over the weekend). His office also returned eleven million dollars of AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding to the federal government because they failed to spend the money. Returning federal money means that, for the next several years, our award will be eleven million dollars less than it should be, because the government thinks we don't need the money. So that's $15 million that people with HIV in Pennsylvania need and will never get back!

Check out our YouTube video of our trip to Harrisburg here:

Now, click here to email Joseph Pease and tell him that People with HIV in Pennsylvania deserve better!

Huge success of needle exchange in Australia -- govt. report

"Distributing syringes to drug injectors had prevented at least 32,000 HIV infections and 100,000 hepatitis C infections across Australia in the past 10 years, new research has found.

"Harm reduction campaigner, Mr John Ryan, said the national Return on Investment 2 study showed that needle and syringe programs (NSP) had saved Australia $1.28 billion in health costs in the past decade years. ...

"'Only 0.1% of drug injectors are HIV positive, but 14% would be if there were not needle and syringe programs throughout thousands of places in Australia,' Mr Ryan said.

We've got the State AIDS Director on the run...

...or does he just really need to get his teeth cleaned?

ACT UP went to Harrisburg to confront State AIDS Director Joseph Pease as he welcomed folks to a Ryan White funding conference. We were planning to call him out in front of his bosses and constituents for returning $11 million that was supposed to go to Pennsylvanians with HIV/AIDS, and failing to apply for an addition $4 million... because that would have required working on the weekend! Pathetic excuse...

So we show up, all business casual with fancy fliers and a speech prepared, and Mr. Joseph Pease is (once again?) AWOL -- citing a dentist appointment (Really? You schedule a dentist appointment the morning you're supposed to welcome your colleagues and federal grantmakers to a big conference?)

We think it's time for Joseph Pease to meet with those he's accountable to and answer to this:

Queer Health Is Political -- or, why attend the AIDS rally at the big gay march this weekend

If you are going to be in DC for the Equality March this weekend (or even thinking about going), you should make it a point to go down to the ellipse Saturday evening for the AIDS rally and candle(glowstick)light vigil. Because:

1) While AIDS is not now and has never been "a gay disease" it does continue to affect gay men and transpeople disproportionately. Especially gay men and transpeople of color. And that's wrong and needs to be fought. It needs to be fought by fighting stigma and homophobia, by targeting homophobic doctors and insurers and lawmakers, changing hearts and minds and policies until everyone has access to the tools they need to stay healthy.

2) AIDS is not over. Thanks to AIDS activists, more people than ever have access to treatment that has turned an HIV diagnosis from a death sentence to a mostly manageable condition. But not everyone has access to the medicine they need, and HIV cases are rising among gay men, the only demographic in the country for which cases are rising.

3) AIDS activism is among the most effective, fun, smart, creative, and yes, sexy activism there is. Seriously. Kiss-ins, die-ins, big sexy rallies with sexy queers, glowsticks, music, poetry, and more. Groups like ACT UP have always known that the way to build a movement is to win stuff and have fun doing really serious, fierce, life-saving work. That being in-your-face about sex and drugs is the only way to lift stigma about sex and drugs and start the conversations that need to happen so we can stay safe and healthy.

So ACT UP is bringing the message that:

Press coverage of AIDS activist's funeral procession at the G20

It looks like most of the local news and the Associated Press picked up the real story here: that unless rich G20 nations commit to the fight against global AIDS, provide universal access to treatment, and meet their obligations to the Global Fund millions will die of AIDS (a preventable, treatable disease!)

Click any photo below to see a larger version.

Here is some press coverage and some more photos and video:

WDUQ (NPR) - AIDS Group Marches On -
Philly Inquirer - G-20 Shows Off Reinvented City -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Demonstrations Begin in Earnest -
Duquesne University Duke - AIDS Activists march in 'funeral procession' -
ABC Pittsburgh (WTAE) - G20 AIDS March winds through downtown -
ABC Pittsburgh (WTAE) Video -
NBC Pittsburgh (WPXI) - AIDS Activists hold 'funeral' protest downtown -
Fox 43 Harrisburg (AP) - AIDS protesters carry wreaths, march behind coffins to urge G-20 funding of global initiatives -,0,5369359.story
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Groups march downtown against AIDS, coal mining -
CBS Pittsburgh (KDKA) - Protesters demonstrate as G20 approaches -
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Activists, police clash in court over feeding protest groups -
Philadelphia (?) Examiner - G-20 Summit protesters stage funeral procession for those that will die of AIDS -
RH Reality Check - G20 Coverage: Funeral Procession for HIV and AIDS funding -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Video - AIDS Activists Protest -
AP/Reuters Photos (first 12) -
Daily Motion (video) - G20 AIDS funeral march -
RH Reality Check - What was said at the G20 demo on HIV and AIDS funding -
MSNBC - G20 AIDS March affects Bus Routes, Traffic Today -
U-Wire - AIDS Activists march in 'funeral procession', demand G20 leaders' attention -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette G20 blog - Why I'm joining the funeral procession 9/22, 2pm, Grant and Liberty -

AP Story also carried:
- R&D Mag -
- Lehigh Valley Live -
- York Daily Record -
- WFMJ -
- CBS 3 Philadelphia -
- NE PA Times-Leader -
- Taiwan News -
- WYTV -

ACT UP's going to Pittsburgh to tell the G-20 to fight AIDS

Tuesday, September 22nd. Rally at 2pm in Pittsburgh, free buses leave Philadelphia early in the morning!
To reserve your spot on the bus, email or call 215-386-1981


August 27, 2009


ACT UP Philadelphia, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, calls on Senator Arlen Specter to ensure the passage of health care reform that includes a 'public option' with coverage for all Americans, including those living with HIV/AIDS and all those at risk of infection. ACT UP will be visiting Sen. Specter's Philadelphia office on Friday, August 28, and again the following week, to encourage him to defend the most vulnerable members of our society. "Health care reform is a chance to end all racial, economic, gender, and sexual-orientation-based disparities in accessing medical care" said Erica Goldberg, ACT UP member. "Without a 'public option', I fear that reform will exclude people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Health disparities, or lack of access to health resources based on race, economic status, gender, and sexual orientation, are astonishingly common. One recent report by the Black AIDS Institute concluded: "HIV-related health disparities between whites and Blacks have actually widened as medical advances have made HIV treatable...Meanwhile, Blacks are eight times more likely than whites to become newly infected with HIV" (Left Behind. Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic).

Philadelphia, in particular, suffers from one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in the country. HIV disproportionately impacts Black, Latino, low-income, MSM (men who have sex with men), transgender, and injecting drug user populations. These populations face discrimination, stigma, and lack of access to adequate health care, especially preventative and primary care services. ACT UP demands health care reform that addresses these disparities. ACT UP also sees an opportunity to address HIV prevention in a more systemic way. "Regular, reliable health care will give more people access to lifesaving health information. A lot of people get HIV because they don't know how to prevent it. Seeing a doctor regularly will allow people to get educated about the risks they face" said Paul Yabor, ACT UP member.

"Senator Specter has proven himself to be an ally in the past. He has worked to decrease costs of HIV drugs, fund Global AIDS programs, and support lifting the federal ban for syringe exchange programs. We know he will step up to the plate and prove himself here as well," said Antonio Davis, ACT UP member. Specter is a key vote to passing health care reform with the public option; we want to support him in doing what is most needed for his constituents and for the country.

ACT UP has a history of performing civil disobedience for health care access. We rely on factual public debate that does not suppress other people's voices, and that allows for the democratic input of all affected citizens. We resoundingly denounce the town-hall disruptors, especially those who have gone after Senator Specter in the past weeks. The anti-democratic nature of their disruptions is clear. Their actions are designed to intimidate, not create, discussion; their "movement" is underwritten or endorsed by corporate interests; and their disruptions are based on misperceptions and distortions of the truth. They have proven that they do not want a debate: they want to kill the debate, and thus kill health care reform, rather than address our national need to increase coverage, access and quality, and reduce costs. Our stance is clear: either our country takes measures to end health disparities and exorbitant costs, or we give in to a for-profit health care model in which only those who can afford it get adequate care.

ACT UP Philadelphia is an activist organization led by and for people living with HIV/AIDS. Since 1988, ACT UP has been a preeminent grassroots activist group calling for funding for effective prevention, treatment and care services for people living with and at risk for HIV.


PR: Forward Progress in PA for Syringe Exchange, New Road Blocks at Federal Level

August 20, 2009

Forward Progress in PA for Syringe Exchange, New Road Blocks at Federal Level

In Pennsylvania, slow but steady progress has been made to eliminate the requirement for a prescription to purchase syringes. Right now, Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states in the US that requires a prescription to buy syringes in stores. Health advocates have been working hard to allow anyone access to new syringes; these changes have been making their way through the state regulatory bodies. This is especially important for the 65 counties in PA that do not have syringe exchange programs and whose residents therefore do not have access to new, clean syringes.

In the words of the HIV Policy Collaborative, "This change will bring Pennsylvania more into line with the national trend in making sterile needles and syringes available as a means of reducing transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV, through the elimination or reduction of syringe sharing by injection drug users." At a recent meeting in Harrisburg, activists from Prevention Point Philadelphia, Prevention Point Pittsburgh, and the AIDS Law Project provided testimonies on the necessity for providing people with easy access to clean syringes. It is anticipated that within the next few weeks this change will be official.

On the federal level, debate around changing syringe exchange regulations is also happening. Currently, the federal budget bans the funding of syringe exchange programs, which means that local syringe exchanges, like Prevention Point Philadelphia, must find alternative means to fund their programs, leaving them with limited sources and funds. This year the House of Representatives removed the ban from their version of the Appropriations Bill, while the Senate kept the ban language in their version. Congressional leaders will have to resolve this difference in conference when they decide on the final, compromise version of the bill. After the House lifted the ban, Speaker Nancy Pelosi rightly responded by saying that the "…scientific support for needle exchange could not be more clear. These initiatives are an effective public health intervention that reduces the number of new HIV infections without increasing the use of illegal drugs."

While the removal of the ban is seen as a victory by local activists and service providers, they are disappointed that the House of Representatives included an amendment which stipulates that federally-funded syringe exchanges cannot operate within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares, parks, playgrounds, video arcades, pools, and youth centers. The restrictions would severely limit the locations where syringe exchange programs could operate if they receive the much-needed federal funding.

In Philadelphia, needle exchange has been a proven strategy to dramatically reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C among injecting drug users. According to the City Dept. of Health, HIV rates among injecting drug users reduced from 48% in the mid 1990’s to 22% in 2006. In Philadelphia, there are no locations where syringe exchange programs could operate within the new federal restrictions.

Jose de Marco, member of ACT UP Philadelphia and director of Proyecto Sol, says "After twenty years of fighting to stop HIV infections from the lack of access to clean syringes, this is a backhanded slap to add restrictions that will stop proven and effective HIV prevention."

ACT UP Philadelphia is an activist organization led by and for people living with HIV/AIDS. Since 1988, ACT UP has been a preeminent grassroots activist group calling for funding for effective prevention, treatment and care services for people living with and at risk for HIV.


siloma fund raiser

i'm callin on all blogs and comment on this...we are havin a yard/bake sale....In Clark Park so we are askin any and everybody if u have some thing n ur house that is just sittin or u are just sick of lookin at it can u donate it to the cause.... all items are welcome,and all items that are donanted will help get people rides and others to get down to pittsburgh for the g20......if u have any thing to donate u can send email to


joe pease

i was thinking to have a pool party in front of his office where ever that may be some ppl bring the bbq grill,food,waters,kids pool, swimgin trunks,water shoes,beach balls,and thing that has to do with and adult party setting and just have a good old fashion throw down

My take on health care town hall disruptions

There have been some posts and alerts about attending health care town hall meetings on the blog lately, and I thought I'd post a few thoughts about what I think health care reform should include, and also what the difference is between ACT UP, who are some of the original activists who did direct action around health care, and the current right-wing direct action.

Things health care reform should include (borrowed heavily from our allies in the Prevention Justice Network

  1. Create a strong public insurance option.

  2. Include the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), giving states the option to make Medicaid available to people living with HIV instead of being ineligible until an AIDS diagnosis as currently required.

  3. Track and end health disparities, including health disparities for LGBTQ people (for whom health data is not collected and analyzed, so that we don't know and can't address it if there are worse health outcomes for LGBTQ people).

  4. Expand Medicaid to all low-income adults, in particular childless adults who account for a large number of uninsured people living with HIV.

  5. Increase eligibility for individuals with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, or change how the federal poverty level is calculated.

And as for the people who are disrupting town hall meetings... AIDS activists have disrupted stuff before, and have bussed in disruptors, but there are some pretty glaring differences between grassroots AIDS activism and what we're seeing at these town hall meetings.

Town hall disruptorsAIDS Activists

Disruptions are designed to intimidate and silence fellow citizens participating in the democratic process.

Disruptions target meetings that aren't transparent or democratic, and bring those traditionally denied access to power to the table.

Direct action is underwritten by un-democratic interests (lobbyists and big business) and that fact is hidden or lied about.

Activists don't accept funding from the government or pharmaceutical companies and other businesses that profit off of the outcomes of action, and we say who we are and what we're about.

Pre-action teach ins deliberately distort facts and inspire fear and anger (which has led to violent and out of control behavior).

Pre-action teach-ins focus on facts and don't deliberately anger and provoke participants. Activists are encouraged to stay on message, and protest marshalls make sure all participants and bystanders stay safe and calm.

Health Care: Congressman Sestak speaks today (Wednesday) 6:30-7:30 in Center City; right-wing disruption likely

See New York Times, Tuesday, The Roots of Rage at a Town Hall Meeting, about Senator Specter's meeting at Lebanon, PA, around 35 miles from Harrisburg. The right buses the same people from meeting to meeting.

Info on Sestak meeting Wednesday, 6:30, 315 S. Broad St., Philadelphia (click to enlarge):

Health Care Reform Actions in PA this Week!

Please see this link from Health Care for America Now PA for information on important events this week in Philly and around the state for health care reform: The time is now for health care reform, lets make sure we get it right and that the right-wing doesn't mess it up!!

PA Statewide Conference Call on HIV/AIDS Ryan White (Part B) $ that was returned!

Statewide Conference Call on HIV/AIDS

Aug 4th @ 2pm, 218 339 4300, secret code: 787353#

We need to come together as a state to make sure that the needs of all people living with HIV/AIDS are being met. A first step is to hold the State Office of HIV accountable for not using money they were already awarded and for not applying for additional money.

The state returned over $11 million in Ryan White funds to the federal government that can not be used again in a future year. This is especially concerning because of the proposed severe social services cuts to the State budget. We gave back money that was already given to us in the face of a statewide budget crisis! This is ADAP money, which could have been used in innovative ways to assist with copays, deductibles and premiums. This is in addition to the Minority AIDS Initiative money that was not applied for and cannot be applied for again until the end of the full three year cycle of the grant.

Please join us to discuss this issue and raise other state issues. If you are unable to be on the conference call, please with your contact information to receive notes and be included in future activities.