FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MARCH 3, 1997

CONTACTS for pre-interviews:

Eric Sawyer at (212) 864-5672

Jay Blotcher at (212) 533-4913

Matthew Sharp at (415) 522-0415

Bob Lederer at (212) 242-2163

 

ACT UP MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY WITH MASSIVE DEMONSTRATION

MARCH 24TH at 7:30 AM on WALL STREET; ARRESTS EXPECTED

 

AIDS Activists from Across U.S. Protest Profiteering by Drug Companies

and Inadequate Federal Response to Crisis in Treatment Access

 

NEW YORK - For the tenth anniversary of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power

(ACT UP), hundreds of AIDS activists from chapters across the United States

will return to Wall Street on March 24th to demand increased access to

treatments for AIDS. The demonstration, called "Crash the Market!", is

designed to remind the nation that the AIDS crisis is far from over despite

recent advances and media hype.

 

Demonstrators will gather at 7:30 AM on Monday March 24, at City Hall Park

and march south to Wall Street. In addition to a legal picket, ACT UP plans

civil disobedience that may result in arrests. There will be a press

conference on the morning of the demonstration.

 

"It's ten years later, and we've won many victories, but some things

haven't changed," said Virg Parks, a member of ACT UP Golden Gate. "Drug

company profiteering is still killing people. These corporate giants are

pricing their new life-saving AIDS drugs - like protease inhibitors - out

of reach of thousands of people with AIDS. In their greed, they're

foot-dragging on development of new drugs that replace existing highly

profitable drug combinations. They're refusing to adequately test current

AIDS drugs in women and children. And they're rejecting price breaks to the

poorest countries hit hardest by this pandemic. The AIDS crisis is not

over. It's time for Congress to investigate the AIDS drug industry."

 

The very first demonstration organized by ACT UP took place on Wall Street

in March 24, 1987 to demand corporate and government action to end the AIDS

crisis, including a cut in the then-$10,000 annual price of AZT, then the

only drug approved to treat HIV infection. After further protests, the

price was greatly reduced.

 

The demands of the upcoming demonstration are as follows:

To the manufacturers of AIDS drugs:

1. Dramatically reduce the prices of AIDS drugs and make them available for all.

2. Broaden research towards usable AIDS treatments-and a cure-for all populations.

3. Fund treatment education programs targeting under-served groups.

 

To President Clinton and the Congress:

1. Investigate and restrict AIDS drug price gouging.

2. Guarantee AIDS treatment access for all.

3. Broaden research towards usable AIDS treatments-and a cure-for all populations.

 

Funding of the federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) falls far short

of the need to cover existing AIDS treatments in many parts of the country.

Meanwhile, President Clinton has proposed $22 billion in cuts over the next

5 years to the Medicaid program, which covers health care for the very poor

(after signing last years welfare restrictions that exclude many

immigrants in poverty from health coverage), and Congressional Republicans

are calling for similar reductions.

 

Eric Sawyer of ACT UP/New York commented, "At a time when expensive drugs

are prolonging the lives of many with this disease, it's outrageous that

Clinton would call for Medicaid cuts and per-person caps-which will force

many states to slash or even eliminate prescription coverage. This says to

poor people with any serious illness, 'It's only worth keeping you alive if

it doesn't cost too much. After your cap is reached, you should just die.'"

 

The March 24 demonstration will conclude five days of AIDS Activist events.

On the evening of Thursday, March 20, ACT UP will hold a gala reception for

an art, photography and video exhibit of AIDS activist history at the

Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. From Friday, March 21 to Sunday,

March 23, there will be a Conference on AIDS Activism to plan future AIDS

actions on a broad range of issues. Friday night's session will occur at

Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan; the Saturday and Sunday sessions will

be at Hunter College. (Call 212-960-4873 for details.)

 

for further information,

ACT UP/New York

voice-mail/fax: 212-966-4873

e-mail: actupny@panix.com