For immediate release, March 26, 2018
Contact: Kyle Murphy, 202-876-2820, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds of People Living with HIV Converge on D.C.; Rally at Capitol for AIDSWatch Advocacy Event
Mark 25th anniversary with second largest delegation in event’s history
Washington, DC — Just days after HHS Secretary Alex Azar appointed an HIV researcher head of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Congress at last agreed on final appropriations for FY2018, more than 500 people living with HIV and their allies gathered in Washington, DC on Monday for the 25th annual AIDSWatch advocacy event.
The largest constituent-based HIV advocacy event in the U.S., AIDSWatch takes place over two days. The first is focused on advocacy training and skills building related to conducting constituent meetings with legislators.
“From the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the community that began to form around the disease was unique,” said Robert Greenwald, executive director of the Treatment Access Expansion Project. “Public hysteria and systematic marginalization of those most vulnerable to HIV, required those impacted by AIDS to become more active and radical politically than ever before. AIDSWatch shares its roots with this tradition of activism that is unique to the AIDS movement. AIDSWatch played a major part in training and developing many of the greatest influencers and policy experts not just in HIV, but in public health writ large.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of AIDSWatch and as Congress begins turning its attention to next year’s budget hundreds of AIDSWatch participants from across the country will focus their efforts on the need to expand access to care for people living with HIV, federal investment in HIV prevention, treatment, housing and research, protecting the civil rights of all people living with HIV, and promoting comprehensive sexuality health education.
“Twenty-five years fighting HIV, we’ve seen so many major legislative victories, and secured the resources necessary for so much life-saving research, but our advocacy is as critical now as it ever was,” stated AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. “Twenty-five years since the first AIDSWatch, and we are only in year two of the Trump administration, with a gridlocked Congress, languishing under Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. We have much to do. And I’m so proud that AIDS United is part of that critical work, advancing the very policies that will one day end this epidemic.”
Joining this year’s advocates are the grandchildren of iconic actress and fierce activist, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as celebrity fashion designer and Ambassador for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Zac Posen.
“While so much of the way we see and interact with HIV has changed, so much has not,’ added United States People Living with HIV Caucus Chair Dr. Andrew Spieldenner. “As we celebrate the longevity of AIDSWatch, we also lament the fact that this fight still rages after two and a half decades. Many who were there at the beginning, like Elizabeth Taylor and Ryan White, have long since passed. But we carry on their legacy. We fight for them and for us. And we speak out because there is still need. We will do so, until it’s over.”
ABOUT AIDSWATCH: AIDSWatch is an advocacy event that enlists people living with HIV from around the country to educate Congress on the state of HIV/AIDS research, prevention, treatment and important policy developments. Participants are trained on effective advocacy skills. After training, participants meet Members of Congress and their staff to share their individual experiences living with HIV, the impact of current policies in their community, highlight the importance of HIV as an issue to their constituents and present a face to the issue. Learn more at aidsunited.org/aidswatch.