On Monday February 26th members of City AIDS Actions and ACT UP/NY participated in a simultaneous disruption of the NY State Assembly and Senate to protest the elimination of 70% of the drugs formerly provided by the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, known as ADAP.

At precisely 3pm AIDS activists unfurreled a banner from the main gallery of the NY State Assembly that read, "ADAP Cuts Equal Death, AIDS Funding Now!". Activists threw leaflets explaining the action to the assembly below and chanted until they were roughly removed from the chamber.

Meanwhile other activists with a banner reading AIDS Drugs Save Lives, Fund ADAP Now! took over the Green room immediately outside of the Senate and staged a 40 minute die-in. Twenty activists confronted Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross with the administrations refusal to provide supplemental funding for ADAP, a program that serves 10,000 New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. When the Lt. Governor attempted to diffuse the demonstration by explaining she had all ready met with other activists from ACT UP the activists pointed out she had yet failed to act on their recommendation.

The Lt Governor acknowledged that ADAP was a cost effective program that saved lives and promised legislation. She gave no specifics. She also said, "I share your concern."

Outraged activists pointed out that many people in the program had already been cut off from expensive blood boosting drugs like neupogen and epogen along with antibiotics, pain killers and anti-depressant medication. They also made clear that because of the cuts ADAP recipients would not receive the protease inhibitor, a new drug used to fight HIV that had been recently approved for use by the FDA. The Abbot protease inhibitor, expected to be approved in the next few months by the FDA, has been shown to extend survival for people with AIDS.

Activists demanded $3 million dollars supplemental funding for the current fiscal year with an additional $25 million to fully fund the program for the next fiscal year because the State is not doing its fair share to make the program work. The state currently is providing $400,000 dollars to the program. Most of ADAP's funding is provided by the Ryan White Care ACT, a federal program. Currently the Governor is trying to cut taxes for rich New Yorkers at the expense of medicaid and programs like ADAP.

Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross appears to be on the outs with the Pataki administration since news leaked she was considering a bid for the Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Al DeMoto, a leading political ally of Pataki. Her support for any measure may mean nothing according to leading AIDS activists.

There were no arrests. Activists were escorted outside. The Times Union, an Albany daily, reported Capital Police spokesperson Robert Hinckley as saying, "Senator Bruno's staff said because it was small and peaceful, they didn't see a need to stop it"

ACT UP/NY is planning a major demonstration later this spring to demand that Governor Pataki support legislation to fully fund ADAP and stop cuts to Medicaid and welfare.

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