Thousands Expected to Gather at Washington Monument for Rally and March July 22nd at 2:00 pm; 1,432 Organizations from 103 Countries and 2,333 Individuals Have Signed On in Support of the "Keep the Promise" Declaration
Musician & Activist Wyclef Jean Will Help Kick Off the March with a Performance, Joined by Speakers Ambassador Andrew Young, Reverend Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West and - with a Special Message from South Africa - Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Comedienne Margaret Cho Will Serve as Host
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thousands of advocates are expected to participate in the "Keep the Promise on HIV/AIDS" March on Washington on Sunday, July 22, 2012 beginning at 2:00 pm, just prior to opening ceremonies on the opening day of the XIX International AIDS Conference. The march will begin at the Washington Monument with a program that includes a performance by musician and activist Wyclef Jean. Joining him onstage will be keynote speaker former U.S. Congressman Ambassador Andrew Young, civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley, prominent democratic intellectual Dr. Cornel West and - in a special message from South Africa - the highly-regarded human rights activist and Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Comedienne Margaret Cho will serve as host.
Spearheaded by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the "Keep the Promise" coalition includes a broad group of like-minded supporters from across the U.S. and around the world. 1,432 organizations from 103 countries and 2,333 individuals have signed on in support of the March and the "Keep the Promise" Declaration.
WHAT: "Keep the Promise on HIV/AIDS" March on Washington
WHEN: July 22, 2012 @ 2:00 PM - Opening Day of International AIDS Conference
WHERE: Washington Monument on National Mall - Route will go down Pennsylvania Ave.
WHO: Wyclef Jean, Musician & activist
Ambassador Andrew Young, Keynote Speaker, Former U.S. Congressman
Reverend Al Sharpton, Civil rights leader
Tavis Smiley, Broadcaster and author
Dr. Cornel West, Democratic intellectual
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (pre-recorded), Nobel Peace Laureate
Margaret Cho, Host, Comedienne
Leaders of prominent HIV/AIDS organizations & people living with HIV/AIDS
B-ROLL: Thousands of marchers carrying signs, portions of the AIDS Quilt, 2,000 individuals creating "human AIDS ribbon" with red umbrellas (aerial view)
FOR MEDIA CREDENTIALING CONTACT: Ged Kenslea, AHF Interim Marketing & Communications Director, (323) 791-5526
Brad Luna, Luna Media Group, (202) 812-8140
Lori Yeghiayan Friedman, AHF Assoc. Director of Communications, (323) 377-4312
The 'Keep the Promise' rally and march will serve as a clarion call for universal access to AIDS care and treatment; for more efficient use of the limited funding from sources including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); for big world economies and the G20 to fully fund the Global Fund as well as for the lowering of AIDS drug prices by pharmaceutical companies to allow for the treatment of more patients with the same amount of money.
More information about the "Keep the Promise" coalition and March can be found at www.keepthepromise2012.org and by following the group on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/keepthepromise2012) and on Twitter @AIDSMarch2012.
"The main message of the 'Keep the Promise' March on Washington is that now is not the time to retreat on global AIDS. In fact, now is the time to step up the war on AIDS and stamp it out," said Terri Ford, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy and the lead organizer of the march. "One of the speakers at the rally is a woman living with HIV/AIDS from South Africa that I have known for 10 years: Jenny Boyce. When Jenny was weak and just starting treatment, she sat with her little son, Dylan, on her lap and told me, through tears, that she just wanted to live long enough to get her kids through school and then she could die. I committed at that moment to fight for Jenny and the millions of other mothers and fathers that just want to stay alive to raise their kids. It's 10 years later and Dylan has just graduated high school, Jenny recently got married and her health is good. Treatment really does equal life and we simply cannot abandon the 25 million people who need lifesaving treatment."
Added Ford: "We will March on Washington on July 22nd because we all must Keep the Promise. We can and will stop AIDS."
This historic march seeks to bring attention to the need for the U.S. and countries around the world to "Keep the Promise" on HIV/AIDS at a time when many nations—including the U.S.—are retreating on funding commitments, threatening to reverse thirty years of progress. The "Keep the Promise" march will bring together a number of elements that will serve to send a clear message that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not yet won.
AIDS Advocates to Arrive on Eight "Keep the Promise" Trains
Among the thousands of participants will be sixteen hundred sponsored advocates arriving from different parts of the U.S., with nearly eight hundred arriving on eight Amtrak trains—from the Northeast, the Midwest, parts of the South and the Southeast—to take part in the march and let their voices be heard on the most pressing national HIV/AIDS access issues, including the U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting lists. A funding crisis has left nearly 2,000 Americans in 9 states languishing on waiting lists, hoping to access lifesaving AIDS medications.
Memorial Quilt to be Part of "Keep the Promise" Rally on the Mall
In addition, portions of the revered AIDS Memorial Quilt will grace the grounds of the Washington Monument during the march. Curated by The NAMES Project Foundation, Inc. throughout its 25 year history, the Quilt has been used to fight prejudice, raise awareness and funding, and as a means to link hands with the global community in the fight against AIDS.
AHF's Condom Nation Tour Arrives in Washington
Participating in the event will be the Condom Nation tour—AHF's specially-designed 70-foot long, 18 wheel Condom Nation big rig truck which has been on a groundbreaking 25-state, 40-city, six-month nationwide tour to select cities, towns and states handing out millions of free condoms and providing safer sex information and free HIV testing in conjunction with local partners. Condom Nation concludes its six-month cross-country tour with its arrival in Washington D.C. for the International AIDS Conference where it is set to distribute more than 1.3 million condoms during the conference week.
"Keep the Promise" Rally & March Participants to Create Human AIDS Ribbon
Finally, 2,000 individual advocates will come together on the National Mall before the march to form a human AIDS ribbon using red umbrellas. The red ribbon formation will be visible from an aerial viewpoint—a symbol of unity, strength and commitment to calling on all segments of the global community to commit the resources necessary to end AIDS in our lifetime.
"For the first time in over twenty years, the International AIDS Conference takes place in the United States—in Washington—and just a few months before the 2012 presidential election," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "The 'Keep the Promise on HIV/AIDS' March presents an ideal opportunity for AIDS advocates and organizations the world over to join together and have our collective voices heard to press U.S. and world leaders to do the right thing on AIDS funding, care and treatment."
Key to the "Keep the Promise" march are the eleven "Calls to Action" from the "Keep the Promise" Declaration, including:
United States must continue to fulfill its commitment to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Pharmaceutical companies must lower AIDS drug prices globally so that more people can access life-saving treatment.
In the U.S., no patient should be denied access to treatment from any ADAP because of deficient funding. Drug prices should be lowered to meet the total ADAP need with available funding, and growth in ADAP per patient drug costs must not exceed inflation.
Nations with large-scale economies and the G20 must pay their fair share in fully financing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Universal Access must be achieved through cost-effective measures and fair-share contributions to the global fight against AIDS by leveraging treatment as prevention in concert with a scale-up of rapid HIV testing and access to care.
Among the speakers will be a current client of AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Ithembalabantu Clinic in Durban, South Africa, Jenny Boyce. Boyce's own "Lazarus" story—from near-death ten years ago to living a full and healthy life today—speaks to the need to expand access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications worldwide.
"Healthcare is a right," said Boyce. "We've seen the negative impact of PEPFAR pulling their funding and we know that it is the patients that suffer."
She added: "I am really excited to be a part of the 'Keep the Promise' March on Washington D.C. and for the opportunity to speak to world leaders on behalf of my country and AIDS patients in South Africa and elsewhere. I am really hoping that the march will have a significant impact in helping to reverse the current trend of retreating on the global commitment to the HIV/AIDS fight."
Background on the 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference
According to the website of the International AIDS Society, "The return of the International AIDS Conference to the United States in July 2012 represents a significant victory for public health and human rights. The selection of Washington, DC as the site for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) is the result of years of dedicated advocacy to end the nation's misguided entry restrictions on people living with HIV – restrictions that were based on fear, rather than science.
"The biennial International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policymakers, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic. It will be a tremendous opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one another's expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV.
"AIDS 2012 is expected to convene more than 25,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including more than 2,500 journalists. The conference will be held from 22 to 27 July 2012 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The International AIDS Society, the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with 14,000 members in 190 countries, will organize AIDS 2012 in collaboration with our international and local partners."
To view a complete list of organizations that have signed on to "Keep the Promise" Declaration, please click here.
To view videos in support of the "Keep the Promise" march from around the world, please click here.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 166,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.
Interim Marketing & Communications Director
Luna Media Group
Lori Yeghiayan Friedman
Assoc. Dir. of Communications