AIDS Advocates Urge President, Congress To Provide More Funding for Treatment, Research, Prevention Programs
Nearly 300 AIDS advocates from across the nation gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to call on President Bush, Congress and U.S. residents to renew their commitment to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Washington Post reports (Montgomery, Washington Post, 11/6). Campaign to End AIDS earlier this month launched 10 caravans nationwide that held rallies in more than 100 cities. The caravans converged in the city on Saturday for "Four Days of Action to End AIDS," which included the March To End AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/31). On Saturday, participants met at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and walked through Anacostia Park, a predominantly black neighborhood, to highlight the epidemic's increasing impact on the black population, particularly in the district (Washington Post, 11/6). An estimated one in every 20 district residents is HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/11). Approximately one in seven black men in the district is living with HIV, according to Michael Pickering of RAP, a drug treatment program that works with HIV-positive people. Leaders of the campaign this week plan to lobby Congress for increased funding for research, prevention and education about the disease (Washington Post, 11/6). On Monday, hundreds are expected to march to the White House and assemble a cemetery symbolizing those who die of the disease because of a "lack of condoms, sterile needles and HIV prevention education," according to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago release (AFC release, 11/4).
San Francisco Bay Area AIDS Groups Do Not Attend March
Well-known AIDS advocacy groups from the San Francisco Bay Area -- including AIDS Project East Bay, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Stop AIDS Project -- did not have a large presence at the march in the district because of a desire to focus on local accomplishments and a lack of funding for travel, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Stop AIDS Project Communications Director Jason Riggs said, "We support the mission of Campaign to End AIDS, and we have people lobbying for some of the same goals, but frankly our focus is in preventing new infections in San Francisco." SFAF Executive Director Mark Cloutier said that the organization decided to have a small presence in the district -- giving $15,000 to send delegates from other organizations to the march and sending one staff member -- because the group's focus currently is on reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. "San Francisco is dangerously exposed," Cloutier said, adding, "We get $25 million a year (citywide) for one title of the CARE act. If that money is not reauthorized, if I did not pour every available resource into advocating for getting the care act reauthorized, I would be negligent. We do care about the things that have the biggest impact on preventing new infections and taking care of people who are HIV-infected" (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6).