by Terry Lee Derrick
Starting in Los Angeles , The Campaign to End Aids (C2EA) will make a stop in Nashville on its way to Washington , D.C. to raise awareness of the need for funding, medication and education here and around the world.
They also want to show, by way of the diversity of the people who are participating, that every socio-economic level and race of people are now affected by the virus, which first hit the United States in the early ’80s.Street Works is an organization in Nashville that provides information and guidance to the community to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. Executive director Ron Crowder and Case Manager David Harris were among the 3,500 participants in the march on Washington in May of this year. The marchers laid out 8,000 pairs of shoes, from high heels to baby shoes, in front of the White House to represent the same number of people who die daily around the world from AIDS. Ron Crowder was quoted in the Washington Post last spring as saying, “AIDS affects everyone from Yale to jail. It is now a disease that reaches from park benches to Park Avenue and we hope to get that message across to President Bush and this administration.”
Amazingly, C2EA was only organized in the beginning of this year in Los Angeles. All involved have done a Herculean job of pulling together people and funding, not to mention their first organized event in May. Cities like Dallas , and many others, are doing a fantastic job of organizing support all across the U.S. The caravans this fall will originate from various parts of the country in their journey to Washington , including the L.A. caravan (named Enchanted Express) that will stop in Nashville at the end of September or beginning of October.
One of the main points C2EA wants to make is that HIV prevention should be guided by science rather than ideology. They point out that 20 years of research show condom use, education and needle exchange programs, as well as abstinence, are effective in reducing the risk of infection. They stress that so much focus on abstinence only over the last several years has left many people unnecessarily at risk. This has no doubt added greatly to the numbers of infected people we now have, here and abroad.
Some of the other important points C2EA are trying to communicate to this administration: Medicare must be funded so that all people in the U.S. have access to care for HIV and funding worldwide is needed so that all people around the globe have access to care and medication.
The faces of C2EA are all-encompassing: mothers, Christians, Jews, blacks, whites, men, women and children and from all races and socio-economic backgrounds.
For more information on C2EA, visit their Web site at www.endaidsnow.org. See how you can contribute or participate in this incredible event and organization.