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ACT-UP Hub



04/19/2007


Check Out These Stunning Interactive Maps of the State of HIV/AIDS in America

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Writing today in the Washington Post, pioneer AIDS activist Peter Staley calls for the LGBT community to recommit itself to fighting HIV and AIDS after this week's landmark wins for marriage equality at the Supreme Court:

[I]n our exaltation over wedded bliss, we are forgetting another kind of “til death do us part”: the bonds that tie us together as a group, across social strata, race and generations — the same bonds that helped us fight AIDS.

During the worst years of the AIDS crisis, from 1981 to the advent of effective medications in 1996, the gay community forged a new definition of love: It encompassed traditional romantic love, but it went beyond the love between two people. 

Today, though, we’re so caught up in the giddiness of the marriage-equality movement that we’ve abandoned the collective fight against HIV and AIDS.

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Staley notes that the country's largest LGBT rights groups have pivoted almost exclusively to marriage equality, pointing out that the most recent annual reports from the three largest organizations--the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)--make no mention of the words 'HIV' or "AIDS.'

It's true that advances in HIV treatment have helped HIV-positive individuals live long, healthy lives.  But 15,000 people die of AIDS every year in the United States, and more than 1 million people in this country are living with the disease.  The issue continues to be more acutely felt in the LGBT community specifically--as Staley points out, more than half of today's college-aged gay men will be HIV-positive by age 50 if current infection rates remain constant.

In light of those numbers, AIDSVu has a fantastic and eye-opening new set of interactive maps that show the density of people living with HIV across the U.S. on a county-by-county basis.  You can play around with the maps by looking at individual states and even some major cities, as well as filtering results based on factors like age, race, sex, education, income and health insurance.

Here's the AIDSVu map for New York City.  Hopefully these data will be seen widely and will help spur a conversation in our community about the importance of highlighting HIV and AIDS as ongoing issues that affect all LGBT Americans.

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(photos courtesy of AIDSVu)


ACT UP NY Members Hold 25th 'Reunion' in West Village

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NY Mag's Tim Murphy posted a slideshow of an ACT UP NY reunion which was held over the weekend at 49 Grove, in the West Village.

Writes Murphy:

But when one of the veterans, Jim Eigo, took the mike and started the old chant, "Act up, fight back, fight AIDS!" there were more than a few less-than-dry eyes in the house. Eigo is among the first-wavers who've started going back to the classic Monday night ACT UP meetings at the LGBT Community Center to address scary stats showing that HIV continues to rise at high rates among young gay men. Even ACT UP godfather Larry Kramer was there, despite frail health. The night's new joke slogan? "Act up, fight back, fight age!"

Check out his slideshow, with interviews, here.


Flashback 1989: Gays Demand Marriage Licenses in Manhattan - VIDEO

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in 1989, 20 gay couples backed by ACT UP marched into the marriage bureau in Manhattan demanding marriage licenses in what WCBS-TV New York called a "violent protest".

Says Thomas Stoddard of Lambda Legal Defense in the report: "Within 20 years at least half the states will permit two men or two women to get married."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Flashback 1989: Gays Demand Marriage Licenses in Manhattan - VIDEO" »


AIDS Activist Spencer Cox Dies at 44

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Spencer Cox, the pivotal AIDS activist who co-founded ACT-UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and was featured in David France's recent documentary How to Survive a Plague, has died at Columbia Presbyterian of AIDS related causes, France writes in a note:

As a very young man fresh from Bennington, where he studied Theater and English Literature, he arrived in NYC after finishing just 3 years. He was diagnosed with HIV soon thereafter. By 1989, at age 20, he had become spokesman for ACT UP during its zenith through the early 90s. A member of its renowned Treatment & Data committee, and later co-founder of TAG (the Treatment Action Group), he schooled himself in the basic science of AIDS and became something of an expert, a "citizen scientist" whose ideas were sought by working scientists. In the end, Spencer wrote the drug trial protocol which TAG proposed for testing the promising protease inhibitor drugs in 1995. Adopted by industry, it helped develop rapid and reliable answers about the power of those drugs, and led to their quick approval by the FDA.

Even before ACT UP, he began work for amfAR, first as a college intern, eventually going on staff as assistant to Director of Public Affairs, responsible for communications and policy. He left there to co-found the Community Research Initiative on AIDS (now the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, ACRIA) with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and Marisa Cardinale. At ACRIA, he ran public affairs and edited all publications.

From 1994 to 1999, he was Director of the HIV Project for TAG, where he did his groundbreaking work in drug trials designs. He designed the drug trial adopted in part by Abbott as they were developing Norvir, the first Protease Inhibitor to head into human trials. It had an "open standard-of-care arm," allowing people on the control arm to take any other anti-AIDS drugs their doctors prescribed, versus the arm taking any other anti-AIDS drugs plus Norvir. It was this study that showed a 50% drop in mortality in 6 months. Norvir was approved in late 1995. Though the results were positive, the proposal sharply divided the community, many of whom thought it was cruel to withhold Norvir on the control arm. Spencer defended himself in a controversial BARON'S coverstory that made him, briefly, the most-hated AIDS activist in America. Ultimately he was vindicated.

Watch the final interview with Spencer Cox shot by David France for his moving documentary, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "AIDS Activist Spencer Cox Dies at 44" »


Ed Koch Wants Larry Kramer to Get Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ed Koch reviews How to Survive a Plague but fails to mention his own failed response to the AIDS crisis and its role in the film. Koch suggests, too, that Larry Kramer and other AIDS activists should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Kramer responds in the post's comments, calling the closeted Koch "a murderer of his very own people."

DeathsKoch writes:

The person who makes the greatest impact in the film because of his superb speaking ability is Peter Staley. In his New York Times review of this movie, Stephen Holden describes Staley as: "A former closeted Wall Street bond trader with H.I.V. who left his job and helped found the Treatment Action Group, an offshoot of Act Up. Self-taught in the science of AIDS, the group collaborated with pharmaceutical companies like Merck in the development of new drugs."
 
Others named in the Times' review as major leaders of Act Up, which began its activities in 1987, are Larry Kramer, Robert Rafsky and Ann Northrop, all of whom appear in the film. I don't know if these individuals were ever honored by the White House for what they did in fighting government and powerful corporations. If not, I urge President Obama to do so by presenting them and other leaders recognized by Act Up with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Staley responds, in Poz:

Amazing how he fails to mention his own shameful role in this film, or this history...

And Larry Kramer responds, in the Poz post's comments:

What is this evil man up to as he approaches his death? Is he trying to make up to us? National Medals of Freedom from the White House! Would these provide a big enough enema to clean out his rotten insides? We must never forget that this man was an active participant in helping us to die, in murdering us. Call it what you will, that is what Edward Koch was, a murderer of his very own people. There is no way to avoid knowing that now. The facts have long since been there staring us in the face. If we don't see them, then we are as complicit as he.


Rep. Paul Ryan Heckled by HIV Protesters from ACT-UP Philadelphia at Values Voter Summit: VIDEO

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A pair of female protesters who said they were with ACT-UP Philadelphia as they were being escorted out heckled VP nominee Paul Ryan today at the Values Voter Summit, yelling "corporations are not people" and a few other things before being drowned out by chants of "USA, USA, USA" from the attendees.

As they were walked out, one told a cameraman "I'm a concerned citizen."

The other, who said she was from ACT-UP Philadelphia, said, "The funding that people need to get HIV meds can't happen when there is corporate donations in this election. Our politicians need to stand up for people with HIV...?

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Ryan attacked Obama over foreign diplomacy in his speech. Read excerpts from it AFTER THE JUMP as well. As Right Wing Watch notes, Ryan is making these remarks at a conference that makes a mockery of diplomacy and terrorism.

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Continue reading "Rep. Paul Ryan Heckled by HIV Protesters from ACT-UP Philadelphia at Values Voter Summit: VIDEO" »


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