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2002-07-10

Protesters Storm the Stage and Shout Down U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson’s Speech at the World AIDS Conference

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Today is the third day of the at the world’s biggest AIDS conference, which has brought over 15,000 delegates from around the world to Barcelona.

Protesters stormed the stage and shouted down U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson as he spoke at the conference on Tuesday, demanding that the US take action on global AIDS.

This, as the AIDS conference heard alarming new forecasts yesterday. One study by the Kaiser Family Foundation predicted HIV infections among the young could soar by more than 70 percent by the end of the decade.

95 percent of HIV infections are in the developing world, where access to new antiretroviral drugs is extremely limited. Only 0.1 percent of the 28.5 million people infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa have access to modern drugs.

On the first day of the conference, the World Health Organization announced it must reach 3 million people in developing countries with antiretroviral treatments by 2005.

But activists at the conference insist that if this goal is to be met, the US has to commit to fighting AIDS. Yesterday activists told Tommy Thompson to stop preventing other countries from trying to produce generic drugs and to supply adequate funds to the U.N.’s Global Fund to fight AIDS. The Global Fund needs $10 billion each year. In his speech, Thompson said the United States was "leading the world in its support for the fund" by committing $500 million. But most of his words were drowned out by the protesters.

Today, AIDS activists in Barcelona are targeting Coca-Cola, which is the largest employer in sub-Saharan Africa. Coke does not provide medical coverage for the AIDS infected workers for the 100,000 workers.

Lets go now to that protest in Barcelona yesterday. It was recorded by Davey-D of Pacifica station KPFA’s "Hard Knock Radio."

Tape:

  • Activists disrupt US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson’s speech at World AIDS Conference in Barcelona.

Guests:

  • Asia Russell, ACT-UP Philadelphia, speaking at the press conference after the protest.
  • Sipho Mthati, Education Coordinator of Treatment Action Campaign of South Africa, speaking at the press conference after the protest.
  • Mandela Matona, Treatment Action Campaign of South Africa.

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