Thousands of people took part in the We Can End AIDS March on July 24th, giving demonstrators the opportunity to express themselves about putting an end to AIDS once and for all by promoting economic justice and human rights. The protest consisted of five different branches, each asking for different changes to domestic and international policy. The five branches circled around Washington, DC, and eventually met for a rally in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, where speeches took place. The five branches demanded various actions, including;
- Better efforts to end AIDS in the U.S
- Full access to reproductive health services for women and the LGBTQ community
- Accountability from big pharma companies
- An end to the criminalization of sex workers, drug users, and people living with HIV/AIDS
- The so called ‘Robinhood Tax Campaign,’ allied with other organizations to end cuts to global and domestic AIDS services
- The general theme of the march was positive and optimistic, promoting the idea that ending AIDS is a goal we can reach if we all work together. Many changes were demanded, including greater support of harm reduction programs, improved access to housing, a massive scale-up of anti-TB programs, human rights for sex workers, IV drug users, and the LGBTQ community, as well as treatment for 6 million people by 2013. For a more in-depth look at the We Can End AIDS 12 Demands, follow this link! http://wecanendaids.org/platform.html
The IFMSA marched alongside big pharma protestors, following a procession starting in the global village (see photo left), followed by pharma headquarters downtown (see photo right), to the trade building, and finally ending at the White House alongside the other marchers (see bottom photo). Major issues raised during our march were the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which is a free trade deal that puts profits ahead of people’s lives) and access to generic drugs so that everyone can be treated. Chants included ‘Pills cost pennies, greed costs lives!’ and ‘People over profits, AIDS drugs now!’ We had a lot of fun, and even got to participate in the ‘die-in’ in front of the pharmaceutical company’s headquarters, during which people laid down on the ground to symbolize the lives lost when AIDS drugs are not available or accessible. It was inspiring to see so many people from different walks of life coming together to show that the end of AIDS is within our grasp!