ACT-UP | Activism | AIDS/HIV | Health | Rachel Maddow | Science

Rachel Maddow Salutes The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power: VIDEO


ACT UP celebrated its 25th birthday last week, and Rachel Maddow celebrated along with them. Did you know she used to be a member?

She did. And to commemorate the birthday, she and her people put together the excellent video below. It's got a lot of archival footage of ACT UP's many ballsy public actions, and ends on this note:

AIDS has killed more than 30 million people worldwide. Even in the United States right now there are thousands of HIV-positive Americans on waiting lists for treatment. On waiting lists for what are called the "AIDS drug assistance programs" in the States. Programs that do not have enough money to get HIV treatment to Americans who need it. In this country. in 2012.

With adequate treatment and healthcare, living with HIV can be a chronic manageable condition now. And that's mostly the way we think of it in this country now. Even though around the world, and even here at home, not everyone is there yet and more needs to be done.

But the reason AIDS can be a chronic manageable condition, the reason it is possible to imagine it ending, the reason ending it is in reach even now -- in significant part is due to a very radical group called ACT UP, which I belonged to for a big, defining chunk of my life before I was ever in media. And which has a deserved place in American history that a lot of people will try to ensure never gets told. But it will be told.

Happy 25th birthday, ACT UP. You set out really aggressively and controversially to change the world. And you changed the world. 


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Feed This post's comment feed


  1. don't need to watch (although i did when broadcast), i lived it, protests and all. it was the only sane response to the criminal neglect.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Apr 29, 2012 12:51:46 PM

  2. I fully support ACT UP, but we can't brush over the fact that it made plenty of enemies too. The action with spilling the holy water at the NYC cathedral tremendously upset a lot of people and caused a loss in support (again, not from me; no religion here).

    Posted by: Paul R | Apr 29, 2012 1:01:27 PM

  3. I'm so glad that she highlighted this news. Maddow is one of the best people in the media today, and I just wish more people recognized this fact.

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 29, 2012 2:07:34 PM

  4. ACT-UPs attack on the Catholic Church was one of its very finest achievements. That pedophile cult NEVER got its mojoo back -- though they keep trying.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 29, 2012 2:33:42 PM

  5. There's a new documentary "United in Anger: A History of ACT-UP" that will be making the feestival round sshortyl -- and I hope to cable and home video after that. It is required viewing.

    I have an article about it and several other new AIDS documentaries in the next issue of "Film Comment" magazine.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 29, 2012 2:45:26 PM

  6. Man, watching this stuff again, all these years later, still brings tears to my eyes. Anger, frustration, sadness. Thank god for ACT-UP, what a band of heros!

    Posted by: jim | Apr 29, 2012 3:40:09 PM

  7. Brandon and Rachel you have made me cry !

    ACT UP was the work and commitment of people with a time of hopelessness and fear.
    ACT UP gave us dignity and balls....and we will still need the same qualities in the coming showdown with the extremists of the Right.
    Rachel, I hope you will be there to lead the war against the Right.....we need you.

    Posted by: JackFkTwist | Apr 29, 2012 4:41:50 PM

  8. HIV is not good, by ANY means. I'm into HAART for 10 years and I dream on the day a cure for AIDS will be reached.

    Posted by: Daniel | Apr 29, 2012 6:15:48 PM

  9. I love Rachel Maddow!

    Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 29, 2012 7:22:46 PM

  10. I don't believe in apologizing for being gay and I don't believe in rimming religious people to BEG for rights I hould have, and for gay youth to not be bullied. When so many of these hypocrite religious loons are the foulest, sickest trouble making folks out there.

    I CALL THEM OUT! And I support anyone and everyone who does too.

    Posted by: Dynex | Apr 29, 2012 8:56:54 PM

  11. Good for ACT UP!

    If religion was attacking ANY other demographic like they do gays, that demographic who be on the streets protesting daily. Enough with letting them get a pass because of an unproved belief system they chose. If they are going to target us, baby we can come at you ten fold. And this whole "play a nice guy act and get on your knees and plea for rights and respect" song and dance is bull. Didn't work. Doesn't work.

    Posted by: IonMovies | Apr 29, 2012 8:58:49 PM

  12. I turned 39 years old this year and I have lived with AIDS for more than half my life. At the age of 16 I was told I was HIV positive in 1989 and was a sophomore in high school. I was very alone and was very scared that I would never see my 18th birthday. Actually those were the first words I said when a stranger told me of my status. I kept this disease to myself in fear that my family would disown me, my school would react irrationally and because I was a scared kid who at that time was learning to be a young adult. I remember being at home and watching NBC nightly news in 1990 and this was the first time I saw ACT UP and Larry Kramer.This was also the first time I thought to myself I would see my 18th birthday. I began to have hope for the very first time in my life. With all this being said, 22 years later living with AIDS I want to say thank you Larry Kramer and ACT UP. My 18th birthday has come and gone, my family loves me unconditionally, my past classmates know I am HIV positive and I am here now teaching others the next step in HIV/AIDS and that is to get tested, fight stigma and be proud. We all live with this disease whether we are negative or positive but together thanks to you we continue to fight and tell others there is a new hope and a new journey to a cure! Thank you again and I couldn't be prouder or thankful enough for all you did to make me who I am today!

    Posted by: Jay Lacey | Apr 30, 2012 6:26:30 AM

  13. What a terrific tribute! Thanks Rachel for reminding us about what it takes to get things done in this country! Shortly after the Act Up protests, better drugs came out making Aids more manageable.

    Posted by: ty | Apr 30, 2012 2:23:40 PM

Post a comment


« «Seventeen-Year-Old Jack Reese Committed Suicide Near Ogden, Utah: Rally Planned« «