As the result of an alleged case of HIV discrimination, ACT UP has called all activists to gather in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan at noon on Wednesday, July 17. The planned demonstration is the consequence of an event that occurred over the July 4th weekend, when the hospital reportedly refused to treat a man who came into the emergency room requesting Post Exposure Phrophylaxis for possible exposure to HIV.
"Emergency room personnel at Mt. Sinai incorrectly informed the man that there was no such treatment," read their July 16 press release. "The man contacted ACT UP/New York who intervened on his behalf with Mt. Sinai. Precious time was lost -- approximately two hours -- before the hospital treated him."
Since 2005, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have called for the immediate initiation of a 28-day course of anti-AIDS drugs for people who might have been exposed to HIV during sex. An important tool for HIV prevention, PEP had already been standard treatment for medical workers who might have been exposed to HIV-infected blood or tissue.
ACT UP will demand that Mt. Sinai’s administration educate the Medical Center and Medical School community about PEP for non-occupational exposure to HIV and train personnel on how to administer it. The activists will also demand that the hospital begin providing a full course of PEP for eligible patients.
Throughout the past few months, ACT UP has learned of several similar emergencies in which New York City hospitals and clinics have denied or delayed treatment with PEP for many hours. They are demanding that the New York State Department of Health enforce its guidelines for non-occupational PEP and conduct aggressive campaigns to inform New York’s medical practitioners and institutions about PEP and how it should be used.
ACT UP Declares HIV Prevention Emergency
The call to protest follows ACT UP’s recent announcement of an HIV prevention emergency, due to the rise in new HIV infections among gay men and transgender women.
"This new HIV epidemic is disproportionately hitting gay and transgender youth," wrote Reed Vreeland in a statement. "This type of declaration is necessary because more than HALF of young gay men and transgender women today could become HIV-positive by age 50, unless there is a serious change from the status quo."
According to Vreeland, ACT UP has only issued such a statement one other time in its history, when it was originally founded in the late ’80s. It could be an important historical turning point and a wake-up call for the LGBT community.
"This is not an easy issue to talk about, and ACT UP has the historical memory to know that the status quo will never change without more discussion, more engagement and more pressure from the community," wrote Vreeland. "Silence still equals death, and it will also equal a larger epidemic to hit gay and transgender youth."
ACT UP hopes that the statement will serve as a symbolic end to the silence surrounding the issue of the second wave HIV epidemic, and allow young people to relearn AIDS history. Organizers hope it will also encourage a new conversation about HIV prevention and could spark young activists who can carry this fight forward for a new generation
"We need to give young people the tools to protect themselves, and that starts with knowledge," wrote Vreeland.
For more information, about this campaign, visit http://actupny.com/actions/files/SmarterSex-BW-English.pdf