In an effort to raise awareness of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), activists marched into the Pembroke Pines office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Thursday.
“We have demands we want to see of her,” said Michael Tikili, one of four Florida residents who met with members of Wasserman Schultz’s staff.
Created in 2003 by then U.S. President George W. Bush, PEPFAR provides life saving antiretroviral treatment in 65 countries. Tikili, who calls Brevard County home, is urging members of Congress to increase spending on global AIDS programs by two billion annually.
Traveling to Pembroke Pines was the first step.
“She (Wasserman Schultz) has a direct role in this,” Tikili said, noting the Congresswoman sits on the House subcommittee for state and foreign operations.
Joining Tikili at the meeting with Wasserman Schultz’s staff were Miami activists Robert Hyde, David Goode, Jr. and Crystal Lee. The Congresswoman was not in attendance. SFGN was invited to the meeting by the activists and attempted to attend, but was denied entry by Wasserman Schultz’s staff. Tikili told SFGN the meeting went well.
“Great reception, the Congresswoman’s staffers are completely in support of PEPFAR in its connection to ending AIDS by 2030,” Tikili said.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, N.Y., former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, met with more than 70 individuals representing various HIV/AIDS organizations. In the meeting, Clinton highlighted her past work in raising awareness and improving research and treatment programs. She also called for a cap on out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenses and expansion of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prevention strategy.
“It was a blunt, heartfelt and productive meeting,” said Michael Rajner, a Broward County HIV/AIDS activist, who attended the New York meeting.