WORLD AIDS DAY 2003 Demonstration



Activists March on White House with “President Pinocchio” Effigy

Protesters decry underfunding of AIDS fight and attacks on effective programs and research, demand AIDS plan for U.S. and the world from all Presidential Candidates. March kicked off at noon from McPherson Square (15th and K Sts. NW) at noon, stopped in front of the Office of The United States Trade Representative, and ending with photo-op in front of The White House.

One week before World AIDS Day, more than 1000 people representing a broad based coalition of AIDS service and advocacy organizations converged in Washington DC, marching behind a banner reading “Voters Want AIDS Action, Not Weapons of Mass Deception.” They will release a Year in Review report [see below] confirming federal disinvestment in effective global and U.S. anti-AIDS strategies and adoption of ideologically-based attacks and programs that contradict Bush’s pronouncements on a commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, as well as a widely-endorsed Presidental Platform for all candidates.

“Rather than a war on AIDS, we’re seeing a war on AIDS programs, from White House smear campaigns on condom effectiveness, to massive underfunding of the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria, to multiple audits of U.S. community groups that are a lifeline for gay men and people of color at risk of HIV infection,” says Jose de Marco of ACT UP Philadelphia. “As an African American gay man living with AIDS, I get the impression that Bush has two places for me to go – into the street with nothing, or into a hole in the ground.”

“Almost a year ago, Bush’s State of the Union address boasted of a massive initiative against global AIDS. But the President has pressured Congress to undercut even his original, limited initiative on global AIDS.” added Paul Zeitz of Global AIDS Alliance. “We hope President Bush starts to back the new international concensus that much more is needed from the U.S. as its fair share.”

“2003 will go down in history as the year that Americans died on waiting lists for AIDS medication that could have saved their lives while the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] imposed a program to deny HIV education to most Americans who do not have the virus,” said Julie Davids of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP). “Bush can try to hide at his ranch, but he can’t hide from the truth: he is responsible for the deaths of people living with HIV, and for mis-educating a generation of youth in a time of rising HIV rates. And the truth will follow him throughout his re-election campaign.

The AIDS Year in Review report [below] reveals a comprehensive picture of a federal demobilization against HIV, including absolute and per-capita funding cuts, restrictions on prevention information and research, and outright contradictions between pledges of assistance and actual Administration actions, and will be released at the protest and online.

AIDS Community Mobilization for Republican and Democratic National Conventions: “President Bush is coming to my home this September to make a photo opportunity out of a tragedy, and to make his disaster of an Administration appear like heroes with lofty pronouncements on global AIDS, but he’s going to be met by thousands of us who live every day with this virus in our bodies or our families.” said Joe Bostic of the New York City AIDS Housing Network. “We’re coming to his house on November 24th to expose the truth of his AIDS record, and we’re going to keep on exposing it, right through the election, and demand that all of these candidates commit to what is really needed to overcome HIV -- more resources, sound policies, and an end to attacks on the programs keeping people alive.”


• President Bush has proposed three years of essentially flat-funding (or cuts) for the Ryan White CARE Act, while ignoring the huge burdens placed on the programs through growing caseloads and increasing costs of care.

• President Bush has chronically under-funded the AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- disregarding those dying on waiting lists for access to life-saving medications. Inadequate funding for HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) has contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of homeless Americans.

• President Bush has proposed huge increases for unproven and potentially harmful abstinence-only sexuality education, while refusing funding increases for scientifically proven-effective HIV prevention programs.

• President Bush has pledged to use cost-effective generic drugs in an expanded U.S. response to global AIDS, and to increase the annual contribution to $3 billion. In fact, he continues to support trade policies that prohibit or delay access to generics in developing nations, and has explicitly opposed bipartisan efforts to allocate $3 billion in 2004 for global AIDS.

• From new CDC prevention policies that will gut community-based HIV prevention efforts to the “global gag rule” that strips funding assistance to family planning programs that even discuss abortion, the Bush Administration disinvestment in effective HIV/AIDS strategies will disproportionately affect women and people of color.

• President Bush has disinvested in effective HIV/AIDS strategies that will disproportionately affect women and people of color, allowing new CDC prevention policies that will gut community-based HIV prevention efforts and championing the “global gag rule” that strips funding assistance to family planning and HIV programs that even discuss abortion. "This Administration works night and day to block U.S. funding for the Global Fund and access to life-saving generic medicines, while turning its back on 700 sick and dying people who can't get their AIDS drugs right here in the richest country in the world. If this is compassion, I'd hate to see indifference,” said Asia Russell of Health GAP, “When you scratch the surface of Bush’s rhetoric, it’s just plain old Reaganomics underneath – strip money away from lifesaving programs, gut housing and health care, and leave poor people and people of color to die in cities across the country and villages around the world.”

"Despite the challenges, we brought down HIV transmission in this country through a wide range of innovative community programs. And the President knows you can't do more HIV prevention without more money," added Jen Cohn of the American Medical Student Association. “But instead of more support to deal with troubling increases in rates in some communities, those on the front lines are getting audits, threats, and now a virtual promise of defunding from CDC.” The Year in Review will provide additional information on:

Impact of FTAA on access to treatment in poor nations: A comprehensive analysis of this week’s conclusion of controversial trade agreement for the hemisphere that will have sweeping implications for AIDS treatment access. HIV/AIDS Prevention: Administration officials have announced a plan to reduce by half the number of new HIV infections by 2005 with no concomitant funding increase for comprehensive HIV prevention programs, say the activists. Experts estimate this effort would cost $383 million in new money annually, but the new CDC “Advancing HIV Prevention” program will decimate effective existing efforts that disproportionately affect African American and Latino/a Americans. Unproven and misleading "abstinence only" programs are the only interventions slated for funding increases. Audits and Threats: Organizations that have been critical of the Administration's prevention policies, as well as those that serve sexually active gay men, have been the targets of many "punitive audits" by the Administration. Activists point out that while these organizations have passed these audits, "abstinence only" programs have not been audited, despite at least in one case being found guilty of violating federal spending rules.

Americans without AIDS therapies, and delays and obstructions in the global AIDS fight: In many states, life saving programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) have reduced services, put sick people on waiting lists, and refused coverage of important new medicines because of lack of funds. At least four HIV+ people from West Virginia and Kentucky have died on ADAP waiting lists. Advocates are demanding $215 million in new money for ADAP to close the funding gap.

There will be 100 MILLION people with HIV by the end of the decade!
Yet the global AIDS epidemic is still in its infancy.


The week before World AIDS Day,

Meet at McPherson Square, 15th &
I Street NW. March on the White House



Why protest?

*** Protest because President Bush lied when he told our nation during his State of the Union Address, that "we have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country,” and he lied when he said the U.S. government will "respond as generously as we can” in fighting AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world:

*** President Bush is allowing people with HIV right here in the United States to die because they cannot afford to overpriced AIDS medicines

*** Bush claims to want to cut new HIV infections in the U.S. in half, from 40,000 to 20,000 people, but he is refusing to fund the comprehensive HIV prevention programs that would achieve this ambitious HIV prevention goal.

*** Bush is increasing bogus HIV prevention funding to unproven, misleading “abstinence-only" HIV prevention programs targeting people at high risk of HIV infection such as young people and low income women, even though these programs forbid educators from providing facts about condom use

*** President Bush is aggressively blocking full funding of the cash-strapped Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, even though it is the only multilateral program that is up and running and saving lives now.

*** Bush is fighting alongside the greedy pharmaceutical industry for new so called "free trade" deals--including the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the Southern African Customs Union--that will stifle access to cheap, generic medicines in poor countries.

*** President Bush would rather spend $4 billion for a month of occupation in Iraq, than spend the full $3 billion in 2004 that was authorized by
Congress and that is the _minimum_ needed from the U.S. next year alone to prevent 8500 daily unnecessary AIDS deaths.

*** Protest because President Bush is putting reactionary and arch-conservative values before vital HIV/AIDS services and research in the United States and around the world.

*** Bush Administration officials are targeting renowned scientists doing federally funded research involving gay people, sex workers, and injection drug users, setting off a chill among scientists who thought their work was separate from the realm of dirty politics.

*** Bush is presiding over witch hunts targeting AIDS service organizations that have criticized Bush AIDS policies, that support comprehensive sexuality education, and that serve sexually active gay men. These witch hunts have taken the form of endless audits and harassment, although none of these organizations have never been found to have violated any federal law.

*** The Bush Administration’s implementation of the “Global Gag Rule” is undermining vital HIV prevention efforts targeting women and children in some of the hardest hit nations in the world

For all these reasons, and many more, please join efforts for this demonstration to demand justice for people living with HIV/AIDS--in the United States and around the world.

After so many deadly lies and distortions from the President and the Administration,



-- Be in Washington DC on Nov. 24: help organize your community, family, agency staff, clients, co-workers, or support group to be a part of this protest. Ask people to take off work, cancel appointments, give your staff the day off, do lunch at the protest, and be in Washington DC on November 24.

-- Donate: many of the organizations working on this protest are low budget community organizations. Your contribution will go a long way toward ensuring that people on the front lines in the struggle for justice make it to Washington to demand change. About $1000 pays for the cost of one bus of 47 low income people, including food, tolls, gas and tip.

-- Spread the word: write a letter to the editor objecting to Bush’s AIDS lies in your local paper: for background materials and sample letters, see

-- Work together: organizers in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC and Baltimore can help you plan events in your community to help get the word out and mobilize people for this event. Give us a call!

In Philadelphia: Asia Russell at (267) 475-2645 or
In Manhattan: (212) 222-3882 extension 115; in Brooklyn: (718) 802-9540 or
In Washington DC: Beth Pelletieri at (202) 210-8313 or

DOWNLOAD PDF FLYERS:  | Philadelphia flyer | New York City flyer |

WORLD AIDS DAY CALL TO ACTION SPONSORED BY:  ACT UP Philadelphia, ACT UP New York, Africa Action, Housing Works, Student Global AIDS Campaign, CHAMP, African Services Committee, Health GAP, Prevention Point Philadelphia, New York City AIDS Housing Network, the American Medical Students Association, and the AIDS Policy Project

Africa Action Co-Sponsors Mobilization Condemning Bush Administration’s Failures on HIV/AIDS

Africa Action (Washington, DC)

November 24, 2003    Posted to the web November 24, 2003

Washington, DC

Activities planned in cities and campuses across the U.S. for World AIDS Day

Ahead of World AIDS Day, December 1, Africa Action today joined allied organizations and activists for a major mobilization in Washington, DC, to condemn the Bush Administration’s inaction on the HIV/AIDS crisis, domestically and globally. Protestors from around the country, many of them people living with HIV/AIDS, marched on the White House to denounce the Administration’s policies on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

Africa Action’s Executive Director, Salih Booker, said today: 'We are here at the White House to protest the broken promises and betrayals of the Bush Administration. The President promised action against HIV/AIDS in Africa and here in the U.S., but he lied. His Administration is blocking greater funding for HIV/AIDS, and its restrictive policies on prevention and treatment are undermining an effective response to this crisis.'

Booker continued, 'AIDS is the greatest threat to human security in the world today. It is devastating the African continent, and it is on the increase here in the U.S., especially in communities of color. But President Bush prefers to ignore those most affected by this crisis, spending $4 billion a month in Iraq while rejecting the $3 billion a year he promised for HIV/AIDS in Africa.'

Today’s mobilization was co-sponsored by ACT UP Philadelphia, ACT UP New York, Africa Action, Housing Works, Student Global AIDS Campaign, African Services Committee, Health GAP and others.

Today, Africa Action also re-released a set of talking points on the AIDS policies of the Bush Administration, entitled 'Broken Promises and Betrayals.' The talking points include quotes from the President promising leadership in the war on AIDS, and the facts about the reality of his Administration’s policies. They are available at:

On December 1, World AIDS Day, Africa Action will join with local activists in 5 cities and on more than 20 college campuses across the U.S. in a range of activities to keep the pressure on President Bush to fulfill the $15 billion promise he made to Africa in his State of the Union address in January 2003.

These activities will include:

* Students on more than a dozen campuses across the country will take part in a Day of Silence, organized in partnership with Africa Action.

* Students on more than 20 campuses will take part in World AIDS Day activities and will collect thousands of Africa Action postcards, demanding that President Bush keep his promise to fight AIDS in Africa.

* Local activists in the Bay Area will stage a protest at the Federal Building, calling for action to fight AIDS.

* Activists in Houston will hold a press conference to announce support from civic leaders and local groups for an Africa’s Right to Health Resolution.

* Events in Boston, Detroit and Washington, DC will draw attention to the links between the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, and the HIV/AIDS crisis in the U.S., which is disproportionately concentrated in communities of color. 

VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS   reported by Joe De Capua, Washington D.C.    realaudio streaming clip (3:20)

In Washington, Hundreds Protest Bush AIDS Policy

A week before World AIDS Day, about 800 people from about a dozen organizations gathered in Washington, DC, to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The demonstrators called for greater spending as well as expanded treatment and prevention programs.

"People with AIDS are under attack, what do we do? ACT UP, fight back."

The woman leading the chant is Asia Russell of the groups ACT-UP and the Health Gap Coalition. She says President Bush failed to follow through on his promise when he announced his AIDS initiative for Africa and the Caribbean.

"No one denies that the great speech Bush gave last year was just that, a great speech. And it was a revelation after two decades of this plague that treatment needs to be at the heart of any intervention that’s going to actually make a difference in fighting this pandemic. But one good speech and a promise finally to commit enough money is actually not sufficient."

The Bush plan called for spending 15-billion dollars over five years, in effect tripling US spending on HIV/AIDS. But in the first year, the administration requested two billion instead of three. Congress later added on an additional 400-million dollars for a total of two point four billion. But Ms. Russell says anything short of full funding will cost lives.

"What we’re demanding of this administration is to fully fund the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – and to permit life extending services and programs for people at highest risk of HIV infection right here in the United States. To be able to move forward free from the censorship that conservatives, who are quite close to the Bush administration, are right now tramping down."

The AIDS activist says, “The bottom line is people with AIDS recognize when politicians, whom they elect, make promises that they break.” She says some of the same protesters spoke out against the Clinton administration, as well.

"Medication for every nation...Medication for every nation," chanted protesters.

The Bush administration says it spends more on the fight against HIV/AIDS than any other country – and contributes heavily to the Global Fund. In fact, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is chairman of the Fund’s board. And Mr. Thompson leaves soon for a tour of Africa.

Nov 25, 2003
The Advocate

AIDS activists march on White House

AIDS activists, angry at underfunding of U.S. HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, marched Monday on the White House to demand a comprehensive AIDS plan from President Bush and all of the Democratic presidential candidates. More than 1,000 people participated in the march, stopping to protest in front of the Office of The United States Trade Representative, and ended with a photo-op in front of the White House.

"Rather than a war on AIDS, we're seeing a war on AIDS programs, from White House smear campaigns on condom effectiveness, to massive underfunding of the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, to multiple audits of U.S. community groups that are a lifeline for gay men and people of color at risk of HIV infection," said Jose de Marco of the Philadelphia chapter of ACT UP in a press statement. "As an African-American gay man living with AIDS, I get the impression that Bush has two places for me to go--into the street with nothing or into a hole in the ground."

The activists also released a report on federal HIV/AIDS efforts, titled "HIV/AIDS Federal Policy Year in Review," which includes information on
Bush's proposal to flat-fund the Ryan White CARE Act and the current fiscal crises facing many of the nation's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs because of inadequate federal funding. The report also proposes an AIDS platform for all presidential candidates to adopt. The report can be seen online at
 [and linked below]

2003 Year In Review
HIV/AIDS U.S. Policy Briefing Papers

     prepared on behalf of the November 24 March on White House Coalition

Over 1000 people, including people living with HIV, their families, and members of organizations fighting HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world, are marching on the White House one week before World AIDS Day, 2003. Bearing a banner reading "Voters Want AIDS Action, Not Weapons of Mass Deception," they demand that the current President and all presidential candidates commit to a greatly enhanced response to the escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic. In their "HIV/AIDS Federal Policy Year in Review," they document trends in the Bush Administration, including:

* a disinvestment in effective strategies for HIV prevention, treatment and care, despite a growth in the population of people living with HIV due to treatment-related reductions in mortality and a troubling increase in infection rates in some communities;

* the use of deliberate misinformation and multiple attacks on community organizations to prioritize conservative religious values over sound science and public health; and

* the use of misleading rhetoric to mask the ongoing inadequacies of the U.S. contribution to the global epidemic

2003 Year In Review
HIV/AIDS U.S. Policy Briefing Papers
   pdf file for downloading

AIDS Vote 2004
pdf file for downloading

1. Our nation's healthcare system must fully address the medical needs of people living with HIV/AIDS - we won't accept attacks on crucial programs or neglect of new needs.
2. The federal government must fully support effective, science-based programs and policies that reduce the rates of new HIV infections - we won't accept prevention programs based solely on politics.
3. The United States must slow or stop the growing AIDS epidemic in and around the world with a significantly increased national investment in objective scientific research - we won't accept abdication of American's moral responsibility to lead.
4. Correctional systems in our country must promote the health of incarcerated people through high-quality HIV prevention and medical care services - we won't accept prison public health failures that impose an HIV death penalty.
5. By investing more in drug treatment and adopting rational drug policies, the United States must make faster progress in the fight against the AIDS epidemic - we won't accept deadly political compromises.
6. Welfare reform must include new protections for people living with HIV and other chronic conditions - we won't accept fake reforms and sanctions that lead to loss of health care, homelessness, and death.
7. The United States immigration laws must not discriminate against HIV-positive people - we won't accept irrational discrimination.
8. Our country must assure safe, affordable, and medically appropriate housing for people living with HIV/AIDS - we won't accept death through homelessness.
9. National policy must address and help diminish persistent AIDS stigma and discrimination - we won't accept bigotry that can slow or stop progress against the pandemic.
10. The United States must lead the global fight against HIV/AIDS, the world's deadliest modern day pandemic - we won't accept half-measures or ineffective, politically-motivated gestures of support.

These reports can be seen online at

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