Preparing for ACT UP Against Ebola Demonstration

WHAT: Demonstration Against Mandatory Quarantines and in Support of All Affected by Ebola
WHEN: Thursday, Oct 30, 5 PM
WHERE: Rally in Front of Bellevue Hospital Center, 462 First Avenue (b/w 27th & 28th Streets)
March to Office of the Governor of the State of New York
633 Third Avenue (at 41st Street), New York, NY 10017

Join ACT UP/NY and allies as we demand the immediate end to mandatory quarantines and travel bans in the US, a guarantee that all US hospitals are sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants to receive care, support for all health workers, increased US funding to fight Ebola in West Africa and an end to stigmatizing the sick. The global response to the Ebola epidemic is woefully inadequate and we must act NOW to treat the epidemic at its source in coordination with local communities on the ground, respecting the human rights and dignity of all those affected by this disease. (click HERE for press release)

ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight Ebola!

ACT UP/NY has been instrumental in the roll out of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in NYC and State. But until now the conversation has not included women's voices. I am writing to invite you to a PrEP Rally for Women, the first community wide discussion for and by women about PrEP to prevent HIV. Co-hosted by Mt. Sinai, GMHC and ACT UP/NY, the event will be held Tuesday, October 14th, 6 - 7:30 pm at Mt. Sinai-Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 10th Ave at 59th Street, Conference Room B. Confirmed panelists include:

  • Shobha Swaminathan, MD, Rutgers/New Jersey Medical School
  • Poppy, woman who was on PrEP when trying to get pregnant (via video from California)
  • Jasmine, woman currently on PrEP (via phone)
  • Julie Lynn, woman currently on PrEP
  • Kimberleigh J. Smith, Harlem United Community AIDS Center
  • Lynnette Ford, MSW, GMHC

Researchers from the Emory School of Public Health recently released an estimate: 12% of young black gay men in Atlanta become infected with HIV each year. In the cohort studied, a man who becomes sexually active at age 18 has a 60% chance of seroconverting by the time he’s 30. The most recent figures on the wider epidemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—which makes its home in Atlanta— are almost as alarming. Over a two-year period new infections rose by about 12% among all men who have sex with men (MSM, a category that includes transgender women), and by 22% for young MSM. A gay man was thirty times likelier to become HIV-positive than a straight man. Though domestic data on transgender people are not strong enough to cite with confidence, international figures tell us of a significant rise in new cases of HIV among transgender women. Last month a prominent NIH researcher summarized long-term HIV incidence data to an audience at Columbia University: “Among MSM,” he said, “new HIV infections are out of control.” Click HERE for pdf.

Just a few years ago, prevention of the sexual transmission of HIV meant one thing: using a condom for intercourse. Today there are multiple means of HIV prevention, and they involve both people who are living with HIV and people who are HIV-negative. Treating people living with HIV has a prevention benefit: someone living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load is extremely unlikely to transmit HIV. And the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a pharmaceutical HIV prevention for HIV-negative people at risk.

To HIV activists and service providers from affected communities, CDC has often seemed eerily absent from this freshly challenging, rapidly changing prevention landscape. Communities have the right to benefit from the knowledge obtained through research on them. This is a fundamental principle of human subject research. Community members have been subjected to a huge amount of HIV-related research over the past thirty years. Now that this research has shown just how crucial TasP, PEP, and PrEP could be for lowering the number of new infections, this knowledge must be translated quickly into policies and programs that could help relieve our communities of the massive burden of disease into the foreseeable future. Toward this end, ACT UP NY and our community allies are asking CDC to change the way it conducts HIV prevention:

Sexually Frank HIV Prevention Messaging
Effective HIV prevention requires informational materials that deal frankly with sex and discuss the
realities of maintaining bodily health. When these materials ignore the human body, those who need to practice sexual health ignore it too. The 1987 Helms Amendment prohibits federal funding for materials that promote homosexual activity. To protect itself, CDC drafted content guidelines that prevent the agency from producing openly sexual materials and from funding the production of such materials by local health departments. In silencing itself and its partners, CDC has abandoned its mandate...

Gilead Charges $13,000/yr for Truvada and $84,000 for Hepatitis C Cure

For NY Pride on Sun June 29, ACT UP will march down 5th Ave and Christopher St. handing out thousands of Fuck Smarter safe sex kits and flyers denouncing Big Pharma company Gilead as the bloodsucking corporate vampires they are.

Currently, Gilead has priced their Hepatitis C cure at $1000/pill, and the cure requires taking a pill/day for 84 days. That's $84,000 for a pill regimen that costs less than $200 to make total. Why does one pill cost so much? Greed. What allows Gilead to charge so much? A government that supports the rights of corporations like Gilead over the basic human rights of its own citizens.

New Infections on the Rise in Key Subpopulations, Despite Options for Prevention
From ACT UP New York
June 9, 2014

Complacent Disease Control Kills

Atlanta, Ga. -- The number of new cases of HIV in the U.S. overall has held steady for the past decade at 50,000 per year. But this doesn't mean that the HIV epidemic has steadied. Since 1993, new cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men and transgender women have been on the rise. According to numerous local and national studies, they've spiked. In Atlanta, a recent study shows that 12% of young gay black men are getting HIV every year. Even in the CDC's own backyard, the HIV crisis continues to rage.

Up until recently, preventing sexual transmission of HIV meant one thing: condoms. Today, there are three additional, proven means of HIV prevention:

Treatment as Prevention (TasP): Sustaining an undetectable viral load if you have HIV means you are highly unlikely to transmit the disease.

Truvada, a pill originally developed for the treatment of HIV, can now be taken once daily as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, to pharmaceutically prevent HIV in negative people at risk.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after exposure to HIV can reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive. To be effective, PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure.

Complacent Disease Control Kills

Without real leadership and promotion from U.S. public health officials, these prevention methods will remain underutilized. Without a concerted effort to address the HIV prevention needs of marginalized communities affected by high levels of homelessness, job insecurity, and HIV-related stigma, it will not be feasible or safe for individuals to access the resources they need to protect themselves.

On Monday, June 9th, members of ACT UP NY, along with Treatment Action Group (TAG) and Atlanta allies, will meet with...