WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1 – Several PLPers joined over 200 activists who rallied at the White House on Friday, November 30th for World AIDS Day, an annual rally to demand aggressive action against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Our message to demonstrators — it will take revolution to defeat the racist neglect of AIDS! At the rally, we distributed Challenges and flyers that urged our friends to join a PLP study-action group. Four of them attended the first meeting two weeks later. Activists need to stop trying to elect politicians or just promoting new HIV testing and educational programs. We need to figure out how to unite black, white, and immigrant workers for communism and the PLP so the working class can take power and reorganize society to meet the needs of our class.
The World AIDS rally demanded that the D.C. Board of Education approve comprehensive sex education for all students including safe sex, abstinence, and respect for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. Since the rally, the Board has agreed in principle to require this. Demonstrators also demanded that the U.S. government end ridiculous restrictions on the $15 billion it provides to countries struggling with HIV that force them to use 1/3 of the prevention funds for abstinence-only programs and to limit outreach to women forced into prostitution.
Forty people carried out civil disobedience around these demands, refusing to move from the White House sidewalk. Others maintained a steady stream of chants.
More activists are taking to the streets in D.C. to improve the health of all residents. Students from George Washington University continue to fight for drug treatment on demand and are helping the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association organize a spring conference on substance use, HIV, and mental health. Another student group militantly picketed a CVS drug store in a black neighborhood demanding it unlock its condoms, chanting, “1 in 20 with HIV — CVS, Set the Condoms FREE!”, and distributed free condoms to scores of people who stopped to talk to us.
The latest report from the D.C. Department of Health confirmed that 1 in 20 D.C. residents lives with HIV and 80 percent of people newly diagnosed are African American. HIV remains the leading cause of death for young black women and men nationwide. We urge other CHALLENGE readers to join the fight against HIV/AIDS and the capitalist system with its poverty, racism, homophobia and imperialist war that has made this disease into a global epidemic.