WORLD AIDS DAY. December 1

THEME: “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.”

This year’s goal is to encourage a global effort to eliminate disparities that “create barriers for HIV testing, prevention, and access to care.”

“It is important to know your testing status,” said Sharon Jordan, ADPH’s director of the Office of HIV Prevention & Care. “People who know their HIV status have the information they need to modify their behavior, to protect others, get counseling, seek treatment, and/or the support needed to live longer and healthier lives.”


ACT UP pressured the government, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies for more patient-centered care during the worst years of the AIDS epidemic.

By the year 1987, the AIDS epidemichad reached grim proportions. The disease had killed almost 60,000 people worldwide, and more than 40,000 were HIV-positive in the United States alone. The majority of those ravaged by the disease were gay men. Despite mounting cases and deaths, President Ronald Reagan had not said the word AIDS in public until September 1985.

To many, it seemed like the U.S. government had been willfully ignoring what had grown into a global health emergency.

“In the history of the AIDS epidemic, President Reagan’s legacy is one of silence,” AIDS activist Michael Cover said in a June 8, 2004 SFGATE editorial. “It is the silence of tens of thousands who died alone and unacknowledged, stigmatized by our government under his administration.”

AIDS was viewed as a gay disease, and it seemed the community was on its own to fight it. Fight is what they did—and the work of ACT UP and many activists paved the way for breakthroughs in patients’ rights.

ACT UP Takes Aim at Improving Health Care

American playwright and gay rights activist Larry Kramer poses for a portrait at the open door of his apartment in April 1993 in New York City.
American playwright and activist Larry Kramer poses for a portrait at the open door of his apartment in April 1993 in New York City. Catherine McGann/Getty Images

In March 1987, AIDS activist Larry Kramer and others formed the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The group was made up of people with no rights, facing a disease with no cure, who had been abandoned by their families, their government, and their society, notes author and activist Sarah Schulman in Let the Record Show: A Political History of act up New York, 1987-1993. It was loosely organized as a confederacy of affinity groups—each with their own special set of talents—and that expertise contributed to its tremendous impact.

ACT UP is often remembered for its most dramatic moments, from wrapping North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms’ home in a giant yellow condom to disrupting mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to dumping the ashes of AIDS victims on the White House lawn. While these were powerful visuals, the organization’s core focus was on improving patient-centered care. 

ACT UP was one of the first groups to propose designing healthcare solutions based specifically on the population being treated. They brought high-quality care to the streets, treating underserved people with AIDS, finding shelter for the unhoused and protecting IV drug users through needle exchanges. 

The group also challenged the healthcare industry. Decades ahead of the Affordable Care Act, they fought for changes in state insurance laws and called out exclusionary policies against gay men. ACT UP played a lead role in pushing government agencies and drug companies to accelerate testing, lower costs of drugs and bring people with HIV/AIDS into the care design process. 

“We have to break down the cult of experts in every area of this society,” said Mark Harrington of ACT UP, in the 2012 documentary, “United in Anger: A History of ACT UP.” “People with AIDS are the experts on this disease.” 

The notion of patient-centered care was not new to U.S. healthcare, but the AIDS crisis injected an urgency behind the principle. 

“Before AIDS and before ACT UP, all experimental medical decisions were made by physicians,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the New Yorker magazine in 2002. “Larry Kramer, by assuring consumer input to the FDA, put us on the defensive over our appropriations. ACT UP put medical treatment in the hands of patients.

And that is the way it ought to be.”

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ponder on this… WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED❓‼️‼️


thur dec 1 2022 REmbr… G is, as G can only BE. GOOD

If I didn’t define myself, I’d be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. audre lorde