Emergency Responders

DC Fights Back demands increased HIV/AIDS funding at downtown rally

by Yusef Najafi
Published on March 19, 2009, 12:00am | Comments

DC Fights Back (DCFB) staged a protest Friday morning, March 20, demanding Mayor Adrian Fenty develop an emergency plan to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the District within the next 40 days.

The protest, which drew about 40 people to the steps of the John A. Wilson Building, D.C.'s city hall, was prompted by a report entitled The District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Update 2008, released on March 16 by the D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration, which notes that 3 percent of District residents are infected with HIV, a 22 percent increase over HAA's data through 2006. Moreover, the 3 percent accounts for only those who have actually been tested for HIV.

Standing on the steps of the Wilson Building and facing Freedom Plaza at Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street NW, Matthew Kavanagh led the a group in a chant: ''D.C. is Dying! Fight Back Now!''

''We are here to give the District of Columbia 40 days to fix this problem and to put together a plan that looks like an emergency response to an urgent situation,'' he said. ''Inside this building we have seen nothing that looks like an emergency response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the District of Columbia.

''For that reason, we are here today with a pronouncement to deliver to the District of Columbia,'' he continued, referring to demands that the mayor double HIV/AIDS funding and improve other preventative efforts.

After speaking, members of DCFB placed two coffins in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, blocking traffic. Two DCFB protestors also laid on the street, refusing orders to move from Metropolitan Police officers who, after about 30 minutes removed the two physically. No arrests were made.

Look for expanded coverage of this story in the March 26 issue of Metro Weekly.