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Michigan activists protest Bush’s global AIDS policies

By |2001-04-07T09:00:00-04:00April 7th, 2001|Uncategorized|

SOUTHFIELD – A small but impassioned group of activists paid a visit to the Bush/Cheney campaign office in Southfield on June 24 to take part in the World Day of Protest to reject the President’s global AIDS policies.
At issue was Bush’s pledge of $15 billion to fight AIDS worldwide. According to the activists, less than $400 million has actually been issued and countries who need funding are offered it with strings attached. Some of the conditions the activists cited were prohibitions against the purchase of low-cost generic medicines and funds used for abstinence-only prevention programs.
The activists gathered in the parking lot and along Civic Center Drive, where they held signs with AIDS related messages. Mike Odom and Craig Covey of Midwest AIDS Prevention Project were among the protesters.
Neil Sardana, a student at Michigan State University and an active member of Amnesty International and United States Against Sweatshops, held a sign that read, “HIV was the fifth leading cause of death for American youth.”
“We’re here to tell the candidates for the election that AIDS is an issue in this election,” he said. “Bush needs to hold to his promises.”
The group made their way to the third floor offices of Bush/Cheney ’04, where Jim Russo of the Jubilee USA Network and St. Francis Church presented Communications Director Stephanie Cathcart with a giant check for $15 billion made out to “Big Pharma and Right-Wing Extremists” and marked “payment stopped.”
Russo and Carolyn Apsey of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights tore the check in half before giving it to Cathcart.
Cathcart thanked the protesters for coming and sharing their concerns. “It would probably be most appropriate to contact our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia,” she said.
Mark Peterson, Program Director of the Michigan Positive Action Coalition, told Cathcart that he was HIV positive and that his life depended on adequate funding for programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and other programs for those with HIV/AIDS, without which, he said, “by next year I could be dead.”
ADAP is a federal program that provides AIDS drugs to low income Americans. The program, the activists charge, has been underfunded by the Bush Administration and Congress, leaving 1,300 HIV positive Americans either disqualified or on waiting lists.
“Right now we have states that have waiting lists for medicine and there are people who are dying who are waiting to get these HIV medications,” Peterson said after the group left the office building.
He criticized the Bush Administration for its handling of HIV/AIDS policy. “When it comes to AIDS care we’ve seen the promises but we haven’t seen the checks cut.”

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