By Cassandra Novick
Several groups of HIV and AIDS activists banded together Tuesday afternoon to hold a “We Can End AIDS” march through downtown Washington, D.C.. Hundreds filtered down K street, 7th street, and New York Avenue, converging in Lafayette Square and snarling traffic along the way.
The prostesters mobilized to promote economic justice and human rights, and their march was essentially divided into five segments: a call to implement the so-called “Robin Hood Tax,” ending the war on women, promoting sound policies, and prioritizing patients over pharmaceutical profits.
The rally/march was timed to coincide with this year’s global AIDS conference, which is taking place in Washington. It’s the first time that the conference has been held in the U.S. in 20 years.
Information about the protest on the “We Can End AIDS” website states, “We have the science, the treatments, and the resources to end the HIV epidemic, but not the political will. This must change.”
The platform also details twelve demands surrounding economic justice and human rights.
First, they demand treatment for 6 million people from PEPFAR by 2013.
Additionally, they want full funding for AIDS demanding for the world to, “Stop lying to us: there’s no money for AIDs, only for war and tax cuts?”
Part of the effort to obtain full funding would be achieved by implementation the Robin Hood Tax, a 0.005% Financial Transaction Tax. This Tax would primarily affect speculators, bankers, and Wall Street.
Third, the protesters request a halt to all Free Trade deals, especially the Trans Pacific Partnership which the We Can End AIDS website declares will “put drug companies’ profits and patents ahead of people’s lives.”
Fourth, the platform advocates the decriminalization of people who use drugs and encourages the pursuit of harm reduction policies such as needle exchange programs in order to eliminate new incidents of infection among injection drug users.
The protest’s twelve demands also includes the adoption of the “International Declaration on Poverty, Housing Instability, and HIV/AIDS,” to promote housing as a key component in the response to AIDs.
Finally, the platform of the protest insists upon full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, an end to discriminatory law that limit marginalized population’s access to treatment and prevention, continued research for a cure and preventative treatment, as well as a scaling up of anti-TB programs.
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