NMAC Statement on ACT UP: 25 Years of AIDS Activism

The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata:

Washington, DC – “Today, NMAC celebrates ACT UP and its 25 years of service and activism.  At a time when misinformation and fear were pervasive, ACT UP stepped forward to give voice to those living with and affected by the widening HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Grassroots to its core, it provided a critical outlet for those who were infected, as well as their loved ones to speak out, and act up – to demand action from government and the private sector, which to that point had been all but silent on the growing public health crisis.  With its now famous slogan ‘SILENCE = DEATH,’ ACT UP urged People with AIDS (PWA) to speak out, while simultaneously chastising government for turning a blind eye on what many dismissed as a ‘gay disease’.

“Through their efforts, ACT UP gave a voice to the marginalized, and their actions inspired millions to do the same.  They helped to entrench a culture of activism within the HIV/AIDS movement.  This activist sensibility continues to permeate our community 25 years later, and is as critical today as it was in 1987.  While issues like gay marriage and the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ have taken center stage, gay men – especially gay men of color – continue to bare the brunt of this epidemic, facing alarming rates of infection.   In fact, new HIV infections among young black gay men spiked a startling 48 percent between 2006 and 2009.  We must do more to show these young men that their health – that their lives – matter.

“Over the last two years, policy and science have aligned like never before, providing America with a clear path forward to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  But if we are to realize this vision, we will need the strength and courage of the entire HIV/AIDS community united in action.  Even in a perfect fiscal environment, this would not be an easy fight.  But given today’s political and economic reality, we must work even more diligently to demonstrate that inequality and injustice anywhere, is a threat to fairness everywhere.  As NMAC works to achieve this goal, we thank ACT UP for its years of service and commit ourselves to working with them and the broader movement to ‘act up’ and end this epidemic.”


Contact:  Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333