AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a California-based organization who operates the Blair Underwood Clinic in Northwest DC, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that they will host an AIDS March on Washington prior to the commencement of the 2012 International AIDS Conference. The conference is set for July and planning is steadily under way. The ‘Keep the Promise on HIV/AIDS‘ march is set to begin before the opening ceremony and will serve as a call to world leaders to provide universal access to care and treatment, lower the price of AIDS drugs, and to fully fund the Global Fund as well as support PEPFAR. Omonigho Ufomata, Director of Global Advocacy and Policy for AHF says it’s time to step up our efforts. “There’s hardly any family that hasn’t been affected by this disease. I think there’s no more important time to fight, to scale up treatment, to find people who have this disease and get them treatment.”
So far the march has drawn over 1,000 organizations worldwide who have signed on to march. As of Tuesday, there were 72 organizations from the United States on the list. Out of the 72 US AIDS service organizations and advocate groups only two are DC-based with the exception of Blair Underwood Clinic, ADAP Advocacy Association and TII CANN. Some local groups have expressed concern about joining such marches as they could become confrontational. Others, such as Whitman-Walker Health, are weighing their options. “Whitman-Walker Health was very pleased to receive an invitation from AHF to be a part of the march next year, and we are actively considering their kind invitation.”
DC Fights Back, an advocacy group, would like to see other items added to the agenda.”D.C. Fights Back supports and endorses the ‘AHF March’, the ‘Economic Justice Mobilization’, and other HIV & AIDS activism/advocacy leading up to and during the 2012 International AIDS Conference as an opportunity to add national and international voices to those District residents living with and affected by the HIV & AIDS epidemic. D.C. Fights Back members and allies seek to include a call to action from our elected officials, community and Faith leaders, and all other public and private partners to push to implement a comprehensive, city-wide, HIV & AIDS strategy with a sharp focus on realistic and measurable timelines and accountability, implementing effective structural and science-proven interventions, and preserving and enhancing the quality of life and human rights of those most affected.“
Signing on for the march is of no cost to any organization and only requires that participants show up on the day of the march.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation will continue to recruit organizations for the march in the months leading up to the IAC. For more information about the march and how you can sign on, click here.