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AIDS Action Now holds 'die-in' at City Hall

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AIDS Action Now holds 'die-in' at City Hall

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Protest against proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS programs
The funeral procession walked sombrely around the City Hall rotunda on Sept 23. After staging a mass die-in below Mayor Rob Ford’s office, the demonstrators stood up and shouted, “Stop the cuts! AIDS action now!”

The rainy weather provided a fitting backdrop for the powerful protest. At the front of the procession, musicians played a dirge and a protester dressed as the Grim Reaper led about 60 people across Nathan Phillips Square, many of them holding candles and flowers.

Activists unfurled a black banner above the entrance to City Hall that read, “Ford’s cuts will kill. AIDS Action Now = Life.”

“What we’re telling the mayor is there should be no cuts at all to services,” says AIDS Action Now’s Zoe Dodd. “He has created this crisis. He needs to find the funding. Look to all levels of government and stop attacking our communities.”


Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says she was watching the mayor's office window above the rotunda. “Not one person from his office came to the window to look.”

Dodd and Tim McCaskell vow to continue fighting until all the cuts are off the table.

“People’s lives are not gravy,” McCaskell says. “These programs and services save lives.”

Before the group entered City Hall, security warned organizers not to be “disruptive” and ordered that signs and musical instruments be left outside.

For a moment, Dodd says, she was concerned the group wouldn’t get in the building.

“That angered me because this is a public space, and we should be allowed into City Hall,” she says. “This whole [core services review] process has been really upsetting. They say they want to listen to the community, but they’re not listening to us.”


As the procession entered City Hall, councillors Shelley Carroll and Wong-Tam stayed outside and cried. Carroll says they were overcome with grief.

“We stood here and remembered all the funerals we went to in the '80s and the early '90s. It was monthly,” a tearful Carroll tells Xtra. “I didn’t expect it to all come flooding back."

Carroll says that if HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs, many funded through city grants, are cut, “we’ll be back going to funerals.

“And I’m not going back there. That’s all there is to it. For such a tiny sum of money, we made so much death go away…. It’s the spare change on the floor that makes a huge difference. It’s ridiculous to think of cutting these grants.”

See the video clips. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Hear audio of Xtra's interview with councillors Carroll and Wong-Tam, in which they talk about the importance of AIDS grants.
  Shelley Carroll on the importance of AIDS grants (mp3)
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Comments

TIM we finally agree
TIM we finally agree. My closest friends are HIV+ and living what I have described above your message and what you have described in more vivid detail. I have been witness and nurse for 27 years. I would not want HIV to happen to even one more person. It breaks my heart. But THE INFECTIONS ARE STILL HAPPENING. ONLY HIV+ PEOPLE CAN STOP THE SPREAD OF HIV. I do agree again: STOP THE CUTS. But also, we have to STOP THE SPREAD OF HIV one way or another. The HIV/AIDS public educations have not worked well enough. The infections keep happening. Some people are not as moral as you are Tim. They have to be handled differently. Maybe the courts have to intervene. (Tim, I may not agree with everything you say, but I do respect you a great deal and I admire your courage and your compassion. You know who I am...)
AIDS has not
become or is it a relatively ----minor health problem..... This is an insane statement! Do you know anyone with AIDS? This is a debilitating disease. While the virus itself is controlled(?) with medications, the on-going physical and psychological issues are not. It is common for those with AIDS to face extremely difficult and challenging body/mind changes, including daily diarrhea, depression, nausea, headaches, opportunistic infections of all sorts in which just walking around makes them vulnerable to disease that could lead to death. Here's another thing, it's common for AIDS clients to have been hospitalized and near death, often at least once a year. Then they have to contend with vertigo, dehydration, severe anxiety, bronchial/lung problems, wasting, Lipodystrophy, bone loss, muscle loss, vision problems, grief/loss, isolation. Then there is the side effects of the meds themselves. STOP THE CUTS!
New glib mindset to wards HIV
@YIKES “AIDS has become a relatively minor health problem for our community.” My friends who are HIV+ live relatively healthy lives, except for the uncomfortable daily side effects of the medications they have to take which causes metabolic changes such as Osteoporosis and loss or redistribution of fat etc. which causes secondary side-effects to health and complection, which causes tertiary side effects. Also once a year they develop opportunistic infections, such as Pneumonia or Lymphoma. So few are dying of AIDS per se, but some things are worse than death. The new glib mindset to wards HIV and politics of HIV, are bewildering when we look at actual details from the HIV clinics, rather than the hopeful idealistic slogans which perpetuate the disease.
kumbaya is a dangerous song
Faizel Deen, your comment is typical of today's Facebook infantilized with us or against us (Friend or Hater) world. Individual issues can be analysed without betraying some universal cause of world peace you know. Ford and Harpur are one thing. But the manipulation of AID by people with many agendas is the issue here. AIDS INC. wants money so they have dragged out tactics that worked 20 years ago -- con the middle voters with tears about poor dying babies to show what meanies the money-withholders are. Why not break your legs and use fake blood to milk more tears from the suckers? Situation Normal All Fucked Up.
Tedium, ennui and boredom
AIDS Action Now and a die-in over cuts to ethno-specific programmes at Toronto Health. Yawn. Gimme a break. AIDS has become a relatively minor health problem for our community, though it remains huge overseas. What next - Culture Club and Ronald Reagan and watching The Breakfast Club? Let's get wit the new Millennium!
Only HIV+ people can stop the spread of HIV
“Zero Detectable Is Unifectable.” Nice slogan. Zero Detectable means absolute -0- then HIV is cured. DUH !! Where is the medical proof and worldwide concensus amongst researchers? If There are still new infections happening then “INFECTABLE” is happening. The infections come from somewhere. Let's figure it out... ONE CAN GET HIV ONLY FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS HIV. Gay=2% of the population but = 61% of new infections. Obviously there is “INFECTABLE” happening !!! Asking nicely has not stopped the infections. We need a new approach. The social and physical threat of jail may work better than some abstract fear of catching an invisible virus. The AIDS/HIV associations who teach the public should give more explicit instructions in their messages. Half the population does not have the intelligence to understand subtle messages. They need concrete instruction. 1. HIV+ people should not have unprotected sex. Use condoms for penetrative sex --NO BAREBACKING 2. HIV+ people should not allow anyone to have unprotected sex with them even if the other one is willing. 3. People have the right to know if they are engaging in sex with someone who is HIV+ that is called “Informed choice.” 4. Before engaging in sex ask if the other person is HIV+. 5. Before engaging in sex, tell the other person if you are HIV+. 6. Protect yourself with condoms in penetrative sex. 7. If you are not comfortable with having sex with an HIV+ person, excuse yourself politely. HIV HAS TO BE STOPPED -- THAT SHOULD BE THE ONLY GOAL IN EVERYONE's MIND --bruised egos aside. ONLY HIV+ PEOPLE CAN STOP THE SPREAD OF AIDS ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
Fellatio Nation Weighs in on Issues of the Day!!!!
Yawn. The real health problems for gay men these days are smoking and obesity related diseases: heart disease, stroke, fat related cancers, heart attack, etc. We don't need to continue spending all this money on ethnically-specific condom kits and all that crap they come up with. The AIDS information industry employs more gay men than Air Canada. Let's look at this for what it is - a make-work project for social workers, community organizers and interfering lesbians. De-fund it all. Get the schools teaching young people, and the rest can be done in a manner that isn't so top-heavy with staff with nothing to do. I'm tired of this draining all the fundraising capacity and social capital of our communities. It's time for something else for a change.
TO: Faizal Deen
Good points, but let's be clear...these things do not happen out of a vacuum. There are very serious problems with these agencies. Those who have been entrusted with them have in general failed, which includes failing those whose best interests they are to act upon. -IE: Supporting the Criminalization of HIV.- Harper and Ford are only going with the flow, unlike the agencies which are pissing in the wind. It's vital that accountability be a part of the solution. That conversation isn't even on the radar. Harper and Ford? That deflection is way too easy.
LEGISLATING INVISIBILITY
I think the "die-in" has wider implications and a political reasoning that goes well beyond nostalgia and correctness.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/City_review_calls_for_cuts_to_queer_institutions-10517.aspx

Perhaps, you should all read the articles leading up the action itself and ask yourselves, is this the latest in Herr Harper and Herr Ford's attempts to make "Canada" disappear? Or, at least, the Canada we proudly distinguished as ourselves in relation to the sink or swim realities of our neighbors to the South?
The AIDS
establishment...David...do not oppose the criminalization of HIV. That is not a factual statement. The real issue I think and I keep reading and hearing that there is something not quite right with the AIDS establishment. What once was a hopeful supportive collection of agencies has now become careerists wet dream in which HIV+ Gay men are pretty low on the totem pole. There has to be some sort of oversight. Funding cuts are not the answer but something isn't right in these agencies.

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