Why ACT UP Has Declared War on the New HIV Pandemic
BY David Artavia
August 14 2013 3:00 AM ET
In a monumental statement, ACT UP New York has declared war on what it calls the new HIV epidemic, AIDS 2.0, which members say threatens to infect half of all young gay and bisexual men and transgender women by the time they reach 50.
According to the statement, ACT UP plans to demonstrate in the streets; work with government agencies to improve HIV prevention programs; protest federal, state, and city cuts to HIV prevention funding; research and distribute the latest safe sex and medical information in schools; and call out ineffective sex education programs.
Such a major call to action is reminiscent of ACT UP's work in the 1980s. It has shaken up the world before, and with an equally strong message and a new group of young activists, the organization intends to do it again. Matthew Rodriguez, editorial project manager at TheBody.com, is among its newest members.
Since 1987, ACT UP NY has been one of the loudest voices in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It assured that the disease received attention during '80s and '90s, helping jump-start the production of AIDS drugs, and became a prime example of how grassroots activists can bring about change.
Activism around the disease is still needed, says Jim Eigo, who has been involved with ACT UP since the 1980s and was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague. He says New York City still fails to provide adequately for HIV-positive people.
At the New York Pride event, the organization distributed condoms and lube along with its "Fuck Smarter" fact sheet, which offers information about how to have safer sex even without condoms, with the help of drugs that can help reduce transmission. Today, HIV prevention takes more than just promoting condom use, says Eigo.