Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Protests at the conference

Activists from around the world are gearing up for creative actions throughout the rest of the conference aimed at pushing world leaders to deliver on promises now. On Tuesday AIDS activists staged at least three protests throughout the convention center bringing attention to pharmaceutical companies and the vital importance of generic drugs. Honoring India's Independence Day, activists marched throughout the Exhibition Hall with posters in the colors of the Indian flag and called pharmaceutical companies and national government to quit trying to patent life-saving ARV drugs. India which has long been a producer of generic drugs is under particular attack both because it supplies ARV's to only about 10,000 of the 700, 000 Indians who need them and because the country is set to relinquish independent, generic production of AIDS drugs at the end of 2006. Activists chanted "Big Pharma Quit India," "Time to Deliver" and "Life Before Profits" and hundreds of delegates rushed to take photographs while pharmaceutical company employees looked on with growing distress as the marched gathered more and more participants. In a related event activists took over pharma giant Abbott's booth at the entrance to the exhibition hall postering the area with signs demanding that Abbott lower its prices for second-line treatments (currently far more expensive than first-line treatments) and make them available throughout the world. Abbott Laboratories Inc. produces Kaletra, the biggest selling of a class of HIV drugs known as protease inhibitors.

Wednesday HIV/AIDS activists will take to the streets, the exhibit hall and the media room to demand leaders deliver on promises and increase attention to traditionally disenfranchised high-risk populations. The day kicks-off with a direct action outside the U.S. Embassy before moving back to the convention center where medical students will call on international governments to fund more health care practitioners in the global south. At ten activists are planning on re-taking Abbott's booth though they were warned in advance by conference activists liaisons that they may be met with security. At noon harm reduction advocates will join Toronto residents on the street outside the South Building to bring attention to the long-muted demands of IDUs and their advocates for expanded harm reduction services. Immediately after activists are planning to stage a theatrical performance where Uncle Sam shoots poorer countries in the back in the skywalk and pressrooms to demand an end to patents and ARV-related Free-Trade Agreements. Additionally, Korean activists are planning an action in the Global Village to bring attention to the need for affordable ARVs in the eastern Asia.

1 comment:

jspreen said...

Stunning last minute addition to XVI International AIDS Conference

Download a PDF version of the full transcription of a "last minute" addition to the Opening Session of the XVI Internal Aids Conference.

Check it out!