Naked protestors and case managers and housing... Oh My!

Hello friends of ACT UP Philly! 

Since we're all busy, let me get to the point... I'm writing to ask you to make a donation to ACT UP today, specifically for two projects ACT UP is taking on. 

I'm sure you saw the big news a few months ago that a member of ACT UP Philly, Leon, joined with our friends and allies and got naked in John Boehner's office to protest proposed cuts to domestic and global AIDS funding -- it was all over the news. The civil disobedience really shook things up and drew much-needed attention on the fact that people with AIDS will be in serious trouble if the Republic proposals to slash spending go through.

Now, because of his bravery, Leon (and the rest of the naked seven) has to trek back and forth to DC for court date after court date. It's getting pretty expensive, so we're hoping you -- a big fan of ACT UP -- can help pitch in a few bucks to cover his travel. Other groups have been kind enough to cover him so far, and we want to do our share too. 

ACT UP disrupts Corbett's speech on MLK Day

Activists call on Corbett to restore General Assistance benefits and expand Medicaid eligibility

Photos for media use below

PHILADELPHIA- Governor Tom Corbett received an unexpected earful during a bell-tapping ceremony at the Liberty Bell on Monday. A group of protesters from ACT UP Philadelphia—a local AIDS activist group that is commemorating its 25th anniversary this year—held signs highlighting the difference between King’s advocacy for economic rights and the Governor’s policies that directly undermine those rights. The group demanded that Governor Corbett reinstate the General Assistance benefits his administration eliminated for 70,000 people statewide in August 2012. ACT UP also demanded Corbett allow the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians as planned in the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010.

“Corbett’s presence at this event, in a crass attempt to tack his name onto the powerful history of Dr. King, is the epitome of hypocrisy. When Governor Corbett cuts General Assistance and denies health insurance to the poor, he works directly against King’s vision,” said Jose de Marco of ACT UP Philadelphia. The group members include people living with HIV who lost GA benefits last year, who explain that they now struggle to pay rent; one is now facing eviction from his apartment as a direct result of Corbett’s GA cuts.

The General Assistance (GA) program was a meager, often temporary program of last-resort ($205/month in most counties) for Pennsylvanians without children who were sick or disabled, domestic violence survivors fleeing abuse, and individuals in alcohol and drug treatment programs. Often GA served as a loan program for individuals waiting for the Social Security Administration to consider disability claims; the state was reimbursed when these applications were approved. During these depths of winter, ACT UP members say the end of GA can be expected to exacerbate homelessness among the chronically ill and disabled. Even more people will turned away from homeless shelters already filled to capacity. And without GA as a safety net, battered women may feel compelled to remain with abusive partners.

Also among the group were medical students who said that the Governor’s unwillingness to commit to Medicaid eligibility expansion to poor Pennsylvanians was placing their patients in peril. As other states, including four with Republican governors, have agreed to expand eligibility as laid out in the Act, Governor Corbett continues his threats to block the expansion of Medicaid eligibility.

The expansion, funded almost entirely by the federal government, would expand Medicaid eligibility thresholds from $5,138/year to $14,404/year for single adults in Pennsylvania. Refusing to accept federal Medicaid dollars could effectively lock poor patients out of healthcare because the Affordable Care Act shifts funds previously used to compensate hospitals for care of the uninsured into Medicaid. If Governor Corbett does not accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion, hospitals across the state would receive no compensation for the care of many uninsured patients. In the last month, Governor Corbett has stated that he doubts the state treasury has the funds to go along with Medicaid expansion, though independent groups estimate that the expansion would require only a 2% increase in state spending on Medicaid over the next 10 years.

During the year prior to his assassination in 1968, Dr. King devoted almost all of his efforts to the Poor People’s Campaign, a nationwide organizing effort in support of an economic bill of rights including the right to and “a meaningful job at a living wage” and “a secure and adequate income” for those who could not work. He also declared, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is most shocking and inhumane.”


Photos can be used by any media. Credit should be given to Kaytee Riek, ACT UP Philadelphia.

Contact: Luke Messac                                                                                                                                   
Telephone: 518.275.6404                                                                                          
Email: lukemessac (at)

Video: Jose de Marco reads a letter from Asia Russell at John Bell's memorial service

At the memorial for AIDS activist and teacher John Bell, longtime ACT UP Philadelphia organizer Jose de Marco reads a letter from Asia Russell of the Health Global Access Project (GAP), who could not be at the event.

Russell's letter shines a light on Bell's work fighting for HIV medications for all -- an effort that has meant more than 8 million people in the poorest countries in the world now have access to HIV treatment: "In Health GAP, we remember John Bell not only as a local Philadelphia community organizer, legend, activist, teacher, mentor and protester against all forms of injustice, but also as an engine driving grassroots mobilization in support of global treatment access. We would not be where we are today if it were not for his vision."

Learn more about Health GAP at

Video: Waheedah Shabazz-El speaking at John Bell's memorial service, 10/5/12

ACT UP Philadelphia mourns the loss of John Bell, who was a trailblazing organizer with ACT UP, a mentor to countless activists, a lifeline to people in jail living with HIV, and a teacher at Philadelphia FIGHT, where he cofounded the TEACH Outside program. 

At the memorial service for John Bell on Friday, October 5, Waheedah Shabazz-El spoke about his passionate dedication to ACT UP Philadelphia; fighting for HIV prevention and medications for people around the planet; sharing principles for building a better world; and his work teaching and reaching out to incarcerated people living with HIV.

She also speaks about her own journey, made smoother and enriched by his mentorship: "He gave me hope that day.... He gave me the bridge I needed... to come out of that troubled water. And when I came to the other side, there you all were—this loving community."

Video: We Can End AIDS! 5 marches converge for creative action at White House, July 24, 2012

Hundreds of Philadelphians joined thousands of Americans and International AIDS Conference delegates to form five protest marches to the White House on July 24, 2012 as part of the historic We Can End AIDS mobilization. The marches --

**Human Rights and Harm Reduction**
**End the War on Women**
**People over Pharma Profits**
**Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street**
**Promote Sound Policies**

-- met up at the White House, where 13 activists tied condoms, dollar bills, pill bottles, and other tools for ending AIDS to the fence in a civil disobedience action. This video starts with the Human Rights and Harm Reduction march, documents some of the speakers at the White House, and ends with the activists using red ribbons to tie the tools to end AIDS to the White House fence.

We can end AIDS -- by bus!

We have big news -- it is finally actually possible to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all.

New research shows that by providing medication to everyone with HIV, new infections drop by 96%. This groundbreaking news means there is finally a light at the end of AIDS epidemic. 

But instead of being motivated by the new science, world leaders have used the financial crisis as an excuse to cut funding for AIDS programs. The result is grim -- instead of scaling up access to treatment, which costs less than $300 per person per year to begin with, people around the world are instead being told they must wait. In too many cases, they are simply waiting to die.

Next week in Washington, thousands of people from all over the world will gather for the International AIDS Conference. It's the first time in over two decades that it has been held in the US, and is a real opportunity to press world leaders to end AIDS. On Tuesday, July 24th, ACT UP Philadelphia will be taking 500 people to DC on free buses to call for world leaders to step up to the plate and finally end AIDS. Will you join them?

Yes, I'd love to come! I'll be on the bus on July 24th at 7am leaving from Broad and Walnut.

No, but I can write a message of support for the marchers.

The AIDS epidemic isn't just some far away problem. Because of the example of cities like Philly -- and the constant pressure of AIDS activists -- three years ago, Congress agreed to lift the federal ban on funding of syringe exchange. For a brief moment, federal money was finally going to go to support this simple, massively cost-effective harm reduction intervention. But then this year, right-wing forces in Congress succeed in reinstating the ban on funding of syringe exchange. Now more than ever, activism is needed, and hardly any group has a better track record of using direct action to win than ACT UP.

ACT UP has been on the front lines fighting this epidemic for 25 years, and our direct action approach has saved the lives of literally millions of people. But much of that progress is at risk because of the financial crisis. With the International AIDS Conference in the United States for the first time in 20 years, this is a huge moment to make sure that international media is shining its spotlight on the failure of world leaders to take the steps needed to end AIDS.

Can you join us in DC? Head to to RSVP for your seat on the free bus.

ACT UP Philly at the IAC w/ sneak peek of our abstract poster...

Does the AIDS movement still need ACT UP...?? 
HELL YEA IT DOES!! To learn why, take a sneak peek below of our abstract poster that will be presented at the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, July 24th. The poster tells the history of ACT UP Philly: how we have survived and thrived, how we are still kicking ass to change the world, and serves as a potent reminder that we are still united in anger and committed to direct action until the end of the AIDS crisis. 

Don't miss out, get on the bus to D.C.
The poster is not the only presence that ACT UP Philly will have at the IAC. As fabulous as the poster is, by far the most exciting thing ACT UP Philly will be doing is helping organize the We Can End AIDS march on July 24th (the same day as our poster presentation). This will be a historic march for AIDS activism and you don't want to miss it! ACT UP Philly is bringing ten buses (yes, 10!) of people down to D.C. to participate in this historic march. The trip is free and will include a visit to the Global Village at the IAC. 

All you have to do is sign up to save a seat on the bus. So what are you waiting for? Go here to sign up to save a seat on one of the buses from Philly (if link does not work, cut and paste the following address:, or you can call 215-981-3309.

For more info about the march go to