May #47 : The Way We Live Now: Asia Russell & Julie Davids

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A POZ Family Album

POZ 5TH Anniversary Issue: Year One

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The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now: Andrew Sullivan

The Way We Live Now: Jocelyn Elders

The Way We Live Now: Mary Lucey

The Way We Live Now: Rafael Campo

The Way We Live Now: Mathilde Krim

The Way We Live Now: Mario Cooper

The Way We Live Now: Richard Goldstein

The Way We Live Now: Phill Wilson

The Way We Live Now: Michael Saag

The Way We Live Now: David Ho

The Way We Live Now: Jon Kaiser

The Way We Live Now: Sarah Schulman

The Way We Live Now: Judy Greenspan

The Way We Live Now: Eric Rofes & Dan Savage

The Way We Live Now: Kaiya Montaocean

The Way We Live Now: Ashok Row Kavi

The Way We Live Now: Pat Califia

The Way We Live Now: Asia Russell & Julie Davids

The Way We Live Now: Dennis DeLeon

The Way We Live Now: Jason Farrell

The Way We Live Now: Pernessa Seele

Honeymoon to HAARTache

Monkey Business


When Plagues Return

To the Editor

School Ties

The Bottom Line

Up Close & Personal

Say What

Two Peas in a POZ

In Cold Blood


Rubber Poll

Poster of the Month

Success Has Made a Failure of Us

POZarazzi: The Bod Squad

Saint Sorge


Anecdotal Antidotes

Get Over It

Rubdown Lowdown

The Berlin Stories

T-20, Coming to a Combo Near You

Pill Drill

Suck in Your Gut

Put the Gart Before the Course

Where to Find It

The Skinny on Lipo


The Road to Wellville


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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May 1999

The Way We Live Now: Asia Russell & Julie Davids

ACT UP/Philadelphia

At a time when the once-massive ACT UP movement is a shadow of its former self, some question the relevance of direct action in fighting AIDS. In several cities, small ACT UP chapters still soldier on, but ours has actually grown, regularly bringing hundreds out for demonstrations on issues ranging from drug pricing to syringe access to Medicaid managed-care abuses. Our mission remains the same -- to fight for people with HIV and those at greatest risk of infection. But who are those people now? In Philadelphia, they are primarily people of color, women, drug users and low-income folks of all sexual orientations. At our demos and meetings, you are now more likely to meet a straight, African-American former drug user than a gay, white professional.

Working with a more diverse group has changed the way we design actions. Case in point: Last year, Health Secretary Donna Shalala was coming to speak at a church outside Philadelphia just after rejecting syringe-exchange funding. Longtime ACT UPers, remembering earlier actions done with different constitutencies, imagined a loud confrontation inside the church.

But newer members noted that many people we work with would be outraged by raising hell inside a church. The outcome? Inside the packed sanctuary, hundreds turned their backs on Shalala while whispering in unison: "Donna Shalala, you killed my sister, you killed my brother." The eerie reproach emboldened participants without violating their beliefs. Shalala slunk down in her chair as Joyce Hamilton, an African-American ex-user with HIV, walked up the aisle castigating her action. The protesters then marched outside for a rowdy demo.

Today, as calls for name reporting grow louder, syringe exchangers fight arrests, pharmaceutical price-gouging worsens, and treatments fail for more and more PWAs, direct action remains important -- and effective. Here in Philadelphia, we have won victories, such as restoration of city funding for syringe exchange, specialized HIV docs for those on Medicaid, and free viral load tests for clients of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. As ever, the key to success is drawing on the strengths of diverse communities of resistance.

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