“The U.S. has the resources…to develop treatments which can make…

“The U.S. has the resources…to develop treatments which can make AIDS a chronic manageable disease. What’s lacking is the will. President Bush planted a tree for Ryan White. We want leadership and money to fight this war—not symbolism.” – ACT UP ad announcing the Storm the NIH action, Washington Post, May 8, 1990.
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Picture: “WE’RE FIRED UP,” ACT UP members during the Storm the NIH action, Bethesda, Maryland, May 21, 1990. Photo by Bob Daugherty.
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On May 21, 1990, twenty-seven years ago today, over a thousand members of AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP), representing chapters from across the country, staged a massive protest at the Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Citing budget cuts and bureaucratic inefficiencies that clearly could be linked to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans (notably, even today, the NIH describes ACT UP as having been “protesting the ALLEGED slow pace of federal research”), ACT UP members occupied the NIH campus, staged a “die-in,” and plastered buildings with signs and banners.
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Organizers provided participants with a list of the group’s fourteen specific demands from the federal government: increased funding in AIDS research; the development of new AIDS treatments; test treatments for all opportunistic infections and cancers; diversify research priorities; begin combination trials; end medical apartheid: open trials to all people infected with HIV; streamline access to pediatric treatments; provide quality clinical care in all studies; conduct research where the need is greatest; announce results as soon as possible; stop secret meetings; restructure task force decision-making; end conflicts of interest; and link funding to performance.
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About a hundred demonstrators were arrested, including twenty-one who broke into the offices of Dr. Daniel Hoth, then-director of NIAID’s Division of AIDS, and a frequent target of ACT UP’s attention.
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Despite limited media coverage at the time, many consider the action to be among ACT UP’s most successful. #lgbthistory #HavePrideInHistory #ACTUP #FightBack #Resist (at Bethesda, Maryland)