AIDS ACTION NOW! drops banner at Washington’s Nationals Park
Taking their cue from a famous ACT-UP! public intervention in 1988, members of Canada’s AIDS ACTION NOW! unfurled a banner that read “CLEAN NEEDLES STOPS AIDS” at a Nationals Baseball game in Washington, DC Friday night July 20. Two days earlier, 8 activists were arrested for hoisting a banner near the US Capitol building also promoting harm reduction.
- Marc-André Goulet’s Blanc de mémoire at the Écomusée du fier monde
- Supreme Court decision on HIV dismisses UNAIDS, angers advocates
- Massive marches, flash-demos in Washington for AIDS Conference
Calling for political action to end the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and acknowledging the International Day of Remembrance of People Who Use Drugs on July 21st, Canadian activists from AIDS ACTION NOW! dropped a banner stating “Clean Needles Stops AIDS” at Friday night’s Washington Nationals baseball game. The demonstration comes just days before opening of the 19th International AIDS Conference being held at the Washington D.C. Convention Centre.
At Friday night’s baseball game, the 5-person group of AAN! members unfurled a 3-seat wide banner from their balcony seat at the evening game vs the Atlanta Braves. Braving an unexpected downpour, the activists were told by security to wrap it up and leave the stadium, without being fined or the police being called. On Wednesday, July 18, eight Housing Works activists (and one Washington Post photographer) were arrested after they chained themselves to 30-ft-high metal poles they raised to hoist a banner that read “Housing People with AIDS is Sound Policy! Clean Needles Now Will End AIDS,” on the lawn of the US Capitol.
“Laws that criminalize drugs and moralistic policies are furthering the HIV epidemic and killing people who use drugs”, says Zoe Dodd of Canada’s AIDS ACTION NOW! – a activist group working to promote the human rights of people most affected by HIV. “There is a clear correlation between laws that criminalize drugs and high rates of HIV among people who inject drugs. Harm reduction programs save lives and will help end AIDS” Dodd stated.
The action was intended to draw attention to the recent report from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, a UN-backed independent body that includes Canadian AIDS expert and humanitarian Stephen Lewis. The Commission’s July, 2012 report, entitled “Risks, Rights, and Health” draws urgent attention to the connection between punitive laws and HIV transmission. Namely, the Commission points to laws criminalizing drug users, sex workers, migrants, and LGBT people as obstacles to HIV prevention. The landmark report finds evidence that enforcing punitive laws hinders HIV responses and wastes resources. The Commission urgently calls for laws that protect human rights to save lives, save money and end the epidemic.
“Government inaction and stigmatizing attitudes are threatening people’s survival”, says Jessica Whitbread, an HIV-positive activist from AIDS ACTION NOW! “Vital evidence-informed harm reduction programs- like distributing clean needles to people who use drugs will save lives”.
During the 19th International AIDS Conference, AIDS ACTION NOW! will be “mobilizing Canadian delegates” and is part of a coalition of international organizations who will participate in the We Can End AIDS Massive Mobilization for Economic Justice and Human Rights. On July 24th at 12 noon, the march will take over five main streets of DC, including K Street, New York Avenue, and Pennsylvania Avenue and culminate at the White House Gates.
Photo via AAN! Flickr